AUBURN – Standing on the practice field during preseason camp, Philip Lutzenkirchen greeted a familiar visitor. It was Chris Todd, last season’s starting quarterback.
Philip Lutzenkirchen catches TD pass against South Carolina/Todd Van Emst
“How’s it going?” Todd said as they shook hands. “I’m doing pretty well for an offensive tackle,” Lutzenkirchen said with a laugh.
Lutzenkirchen. 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds, was more of a pass-catcher than a blocker as a highly recruited tight end at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga. But once at Auburn, he would play dual roles. At tight end, he would be more blocker than receiver. At the 3-back position, he would still be a blocker, but he would be more involved in the passing game.
Through three games, Lutzenkirchen did little but block. He ran some pass routes, but he caught no passes. That all changed last Saturday.
In Auburn’s 35-27 victory over South Carolina, Lutzenkirchen continued to block. He helped pave the way for Auburn runners to gain 334 yards on the ground. But he caught three passes, too. One of them went for a 7-yard touchdown from Cam Newton that gave the Tigers the lead for good at 28-27 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Anytime you get in the end zone it’s a blast. I knew my time was coming. I just had to be patient.”
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn knew his chance was coming, too.
“He’s really coming on,” Malzahn said. “He did a good job, and not just blocking. He made some good catches also. It’s a key, a big key, that you can put your hand down and move around and catch the ball, too.”
As the No. 11 Tigers (5-0, 2-0) look to Saturday’s game against five-touchdown underdog Louisiana-Monroe (1-2), he recognizes he will continue to do more blocking than catching. He says he has no complaints. He looks around and sees Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery and more.
“If you ask me, I’d say I’d want the ball more, but we have so many weapons on this offense,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Cam is doing a good job of spreading it around. When you have guys like Darvin and T-Zac, I’m not going to complain. Whenever I get the ball, I’m going to try to do what I can with it.”