Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.
LB Jessel Curry
RB Dontae Aycock
DE Craig Sanders
QBs Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen
Despite coming to Auburn with lofty expectations, it would be easy to overlook Lutzenkirchen right now. Like receivers Emory Blake and DeAngelo Benton, Lutzenkirchen drew plenty of press, but played just a minimal role in the offense as a true freshman.
Lutzenkirchen is the favor to replace Tommy Trott as the tight end/slot receiver. Auburn fans have waited for someone to break out in that position for a long, long time. Trott never turned in the all-SEC-type season some expected from him. Cole Bennett was underappreciated because of his blocking ability, but offered little in the passing game.
Cooper Wallace had a consistent career, but never tallied more than 20 receptions in a season. Robert Johnson might have been the last major pass-catching threat for Auburn. Johnson had 30 catches for 365 yards and four touchdowns in 2002 – his final year at Auburn.
Though high-school tape doesn’t often translate well into the college level, Lutzenkirchen certainly showed he is capable of the spectacular.
Still, there are some concerns. Coaches – particularly Trooper Taylor – sometimes grumbled a bit about Lutzenkirchen’s size, hoping he would shed some weight. Taylor once joked Lutzenkirchen was a few meals away from joining offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ position meetings, implying Lutzenkirchen could move to tackle.
It should also be noted that coaches apparently felt more comfortable with Trott – and the bad penalties and occasional drops that came with him – than Lutzenkirchen. He was also supposed to be in the mix for the H-back position when Eric Smith was suspended for the Outback Bowl. The position instead largely vanished during the game.
Not many people doubt Lutzenkirchen’s ability, but with an open position, this is the time he needs to make his move and prove capable of a breakout year. That process begins this spring.