COLUMBIA — Two months ago, Eddie Printz wasn't thinking about battling for Missouri's backup quarterback position or the upcoming season.
On June 29, his mind was back home in Marietta, Ga., with one of his hometown's favorite sons — a friend who was now dead.
Philip Lutzenkirchen, a former Auburn tight end and an alumnus of Lassiter High School, like Printz, died in a single-car accident in LaGrange, Ga., on that day.
To the Auburn community, Lutzenkirchen was a beloved part of the 2010 national championship team. He caught the game-winning touchdown against Alabama in that year's Iron Bowl and is regarded as one of the best tight ends in Auburn history.
Apryl Mullins, an Auburn employee and graduate, said Lutzenkirchen always had a smile on his face around campus.
"I have a son," Mullins said. "I would put Phillip Lutzenkirchen as someone my son would aspire to be like. Always had a smile on his face."
But to Printz, Lutzenkirchen was someone who guided him to Lassiter.
"I was trying to figure out which high school to go to," Printz said, who was in eighth grade when Lutzenkirchen played his senior year. "I remember I saw them (Lassiter) with my family. He has a sister Abby who is a grade above me who is just the sweetest girl. I met his whole family, a great Christian family. That was the coolest thing ever."
Printz was blown away by Lassister's spread offense. He saw the 6-foot-3 tight end obliterate the opposition, further exciting the quarterback to play for the Trojans.
"He just tore it up, lit it up," Printz said.
Lutzenkirchen also wrecked opposing defenses at Auburn. He holds team records for most touchdowns by a tight end in a career as well as a season. The St. Louis Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent, but he was released before the beginning of last season.
Still, the 23-year-old still had a full life ahead of him, which makes the nature of Lutzenkirchen's death all the more somber to Printz.
Lutzenkirchen was a passenger in the car. Two other passengers survived with injuries. The driver, former Georgia baseball player Joseph Davis, also died. Both Lutzenkirchen and Davis registered blood alcohol content levels above Georgia's .08 limit.
"Any time you hear about an accident involving alcohol, you just cringe because you know they weren't in the right state of mind," Printz said.
Printz, a devout Christian, said he doesn't drink. He said it leads to issues with driving and women.
He still hasn't put Lutzenkirchen out of his mind. Lassiter coaches held a memorial for Lutzenkirchen in July at the school’s Frank Fillmann Stadium. Printz speaks with the coaches at least once every two weeks.
"The image he had at Auburn is the same image he had at Lassiter," Printz said.
There are other memorials planned for Lutzenkirchen. Abby Lutzenkirchen, a soccer player at Alabama, dedicated this season to her brother. Auburn commit Jalen Harris changed his jersey number to Lutzenkirchen's 43. A 43 was also spray painted on a cliff at Alabama's Lake Martin.
Printz was named Missouri's backup quarterback Monday. The redshirt freshman said he hopes to one day affect his team like Lutzenkirchen affected Auburn and Lassiter.
"Everyone loves him," Printz said. "Everyone loves being around him."
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