The Auburn University football community was rocked Sunday morning, as Ryan Black of the Ledger-Enquirer reported that former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen was killed in an automobile accident.
As a freshman at Auburn in 2009, Lutzenkirchen played all 13 games, making five receptions with two touchdowns.
In 44 collegiate games, the skilled tight end would go on to catch 14 touchdown passes, the most by any tight end in school history.
This kid had such raw talent, as he was arguably one of the best tight ends in the nation during his time at Auburn.
Who could forget his clutch game-winning touchdown reception in a 28-27 victory over Alabama in 2010?
Had he failed to reel that pass in, Auburn likely wouldn't have been given the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
Lutzenkirchen caught two passes for 48.0 yards in the title game against the Oregon Ducks, as his Tigers capped off a perfect season after coming away with the 22-19 victory.
However, his senior season ended abruptly after only six games due to a crushing hip injury during a game against Ole Miss.
After recovering from the injury, Lutzenkirchen signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. He saw playing time in three preseason games that year, making two receptions in Week 1 of the preseason.
However, it was evident that his hip never fully healed after his initial injury, as Lutzenkirchen was forced to undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season.
From that point on, the former Auburn great never got another chance to play in a professional game, but he carried his football knowledge with him everywhere he went.
According to Wesley Sinor of Al.com, Lutzenkirchen volunteered to be an assistant coach at St. James School in Montgomery, Alabama.
Also according to Sinor, when asked about that new chapter of his life, Lutzenkirchen replied, "It's good, I'm really enjoying it. We have a great group of kids at St. James. There's not a whole lot to do in Montgomery and I wanted to get back involved with sports."
Lutzenkirchen carried himself in a professional manner his whole career, and his willingness to offer his football knowledge to athletes with the same aspirations he once had was remarkable.
Lutzenkirchen will never be forgotten, especially within the Auburn football organization. Neither will his outlook on life, which he broadcast on his Twitter page with a quote from Jackie Robinson that read, "A life is not important except for the impact it has on others."
It is safe to say that we can all admire the way this young man lived his life. It is both sad and unfortunate that his time on Earth was so short, but Phil Lutzenkirchen has left a lasting impact on the lives of everyone around him.
*Statistics Courtesy of Sports-Reference