Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Google surveys the recruits: Philip Lutzenkirchen

Because someone needs to do the work of plugging in a given Auburn commitment's name into Google and synthesizing the tidbits of information that trickle out. Previous entries in this series here.

I've held off on surveying Lutzenkirchen for several reasons. For starters, I didn't want to just go out and do all the really good recruits to start with ... sort of like eating one's green beans before finishing one's steak at dinner, so to speak. Second, being the worry wart I am, I get more anxious about the top-rated guys getting stolen away than the rank-and-file recruits. And thirdly, would you be all that excited about typing "Lutzenkirchen" as often as I'm about to?

But now it's the day before Signing Day, and since 1) as far as I can see, Lutzenkirchen's as solid as ever 2) we could all maybe use a reminder that even if things don't go as well as we'd like over the next 24 hours or so, we've got some real gems coming in ... it's time.

Basics: Lutzenkirchen is a tight end recruit through and through, but if you've watched his highlight film he seems to line up split wide as often as he does at the line of scrimmage, so perhaps a kind of TE/WR designation might be more accurate. He's listed as 6-4 and 240-245, though ESPN offered that on film Lutzenkirchen is "nowhere near" that tall. Maybe he's grown into it? Whatever. The stats: 72 receptions his senior year at Lassier (Ga.), 1,000 yards, seven TDs. 40 time is listed at 4.75, so we're probably looking at something closer to five seconds ... which might matter if the dude wasn't already 6-4 and 240-245.

Recruitnik hoo-ha: Man, does Rivals love this kid. Four stars, 5.8 rating, the No. 3 "best athlete" at TE, the No. 1 hands at TE, the No. 3 TE overall, the No. 172 spot on their overall top 250. They even said something nice about his blocking. Yes, I think it's safe to say they like this pickup for Auburn.

Scout's only a little less enthused: four stars and the No. 8 TE designation. ESPN's somewhere in the same area, giving him a low four/high three grade of 79 but ranking him the No. 6 TE. They write:
(N)ot very physically imposing, but he's fun to watch once the ball is snapped. He's a good receiver with a flair for the big catch. Displays wonderful body control and concentration, and makes some very impressive one-handed grabs. Has good hands overall ... He may not prove to be a consistent field-stretching threat, but he can make linebackers and safeties pay if they aren't careful ... He comes across as a player whose effort and playmaking ability will trump anything he's missing physically.
If you look at a consensus across all three services, Lutzenkirchen ranks alongside McCalebb and Rollison as the highest-rated prospect in Auburn's current class. He has the offers to match, as well: Florida (according to Rivals), Alabama, Florida St., Clemson, etc. He shouldn't miss.

Links of potential interest: I'm not sure, maybe you saw this?

Yes, that's Mr. Lutzenkirchen making the ridonkulous lateral to a teammate for the TD. Moves like that, I'm surprised he didn't commit to Boise St. More on the catch, its ESPN airing, and a few frightening quotes in those dark post-Franklin days are available at the AJC.

Nice as that is, this video--ganked off ESPN carefully put together by a neutral, totally-not-creepy college football fan who just enjoys helping out here and there--is a little more helpful in showing off Lutzenkirchen's overall skill set (audio possibly SFW, definitely NSF brain):

Also, if Lutzenkircehn's football career doesn't work out, he might have a future running the high hurdles as it turns out.

It's much easier to read now than when it came out, but this article on the rush of recruiting attention from other schools in the wake of Tubby's departure is still an interesting look at how nutzoid the recruiting process can get for a guy like Lutzenkirchen. My favorite quote is this one:
"I think there is something about the lifestyle and atmosphere in Gainesville I'm still not comfortable with yet" Lutzenkirchen said.

One problem with the miracle catch: it makes sifting past the innumerable references to it out there on the Internet to find non-catch-related material difficult. I can tell you that Lutzenkirchen made the AJC Super Southern 100 and was first-team All-State in Georgia; he has a lot of Facebook friends, as this depressing Palm Beach Post article on exactly how creepy recruit-stalking is becoming will tell you; he caught the winning touchdown pass at something called the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.

What conclusions we might draw, if any: Given Auburn's desperate need for someone, anyone, who can actually split wide and hang onto the @#%$ ball, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say a blue-chip receiver like Lutzenkirchen might very well be--save maybe Rollison, if he qualifies, or Phillips, if he commits--the most important recruit in the class. As long as he stays healthy, Lutzenkirchen is going to see the field--contrast the one-handed grabss in the video above with the plague of drops that have hampered Auburn's receiving efforts the past few seasons, and it's hard to see how he won't make some kind of immediate impact. How does Philip "Not a Blocking Tight End, But I Couldn't Possibly Care Less When He Makes Catches Like Those" Lutzenkirchen sound?

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