Philip Lutzenkirchen was a student-athlete both Lassiter High School and Auburn University, yet his impact on the world went far beyond football. He was a loving son, brother, and friend. He was kind, generous and someone who went out of his way to help others. Philip had a large presence in the community, both in Marietta, GA, where he grew up, and during his time at Auburn. At Lassiter, he became one of the top tight end prospects in the country, and even appeared on ESPN’s “Top Plays” for a miraculous play where he caught a ball out of bounds and threw it to a teammate for a touchdown.
Eventually, Philip committed to play his college career at Auburn. At Auburn, everything came together for Philip and the Tigers in 2010 during their National Championship season; the first for the school in over 50 years. Philip became a household name when he caught the game-winning touchdown from Cam Newton in the Iron Bowl to defeat Alabama for the SEC West crown, sending Auburn to the SEC Championship Game.
Philip finished as Auburn’s all-time touchdown reception leader as a tight end with 14 TD catches. After going undrafted in the NFL Draft, Philip signed with the St. Louis Rams to achieve his goal of becoming an NFL football player, but due to an injury he sustained in college, his NFL career came to an end in the last cut prior to the 2013 season. While football was an avenue for Philip, it was never what he wanted to define him. His status as one of the most popular players in Auburn history has less to do with his on-field accomplishments, and more to do with his kindness, generosity and dedication to his community.
On June 29, 2014, Philip was at a farm in LaGrange, GA with friends hanging out and drinking. As the day turned into night and eventually early morning, a friend of Philip’s decided to make a run to a nearby gas station for a can of chewing tobacco. There were three other friends in the car and only the front passenger fastened his seatbelt. As the morning drew to past 3 a.m., the four friends left the gas station and headed down the two-lane highway nearing a T-intersection.
Though the posted speed limit was 55 mph, the SUV charged through the intersection, failing to see the posted stop sign, at 77 mph. The SUV flew off the road and into a ditch, most likely causing Philip to smash his head into the roof of the SUV. Philip and the other rear passenger, were not wearing their seatbelts and were thrown from the car as the car continued to travel into the air and off its wheels. Philip landed fifteen feet from the car’s final stopping position. Philip was killed instantly. He was just 23 years old. Though Philip has departed from us in this world, his legacy will never be forgotten.
He was a great young man who touched the lives of everyone he knew in a positive way. On the field, Philip was a great player and competitor, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and friend off the field."
I just thought he was always an outstanding player and certainly represented...his university in a first-class way and set a good example for a lot of people in a lot of ways."
When tragedy hit and Philip’s passing happened, I saw first hand how hard people were hit because of the number of lives he had touched and the impact he had made on virtually everyone he came in contact with."
We should all begin by honoring his life because he lived a life worthy of that. In his 23 short years, he has certainly left an impactful legacy to everyone he touched. I will miss him deeply."