Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei finally had his day to impress NFL scouts Wednesday, and he didn’t disappoint.
Lotulelei was prevented from participating in drills during the NFL Combine after a medical exam revealed his left ventricle was operating at just 44 percent efficiency instead of the normal range of 55 to 70 percent.
He still won’t be in the clear until he undergoes more medical testing on his heart at the “combine recheck,” scheduled for April 5 and 6 in Indianapolis.
However, initial testing performed on Lotulelei in Salt Lake City a week following the combine showed his heart was improving, he said.
The hope is that Lotulelei’s lower efficiency was caused by a virus.
“I came out of it with everything good,” he said. “I played here three years and in high school and nothing ever happened. I was shocked and wanted to work out with the best of the best [at the combine], and it was disappointing I didn’t get to work out. But everything happens for a reason, so I came out today and gave it my all.”
Lotulelei looked fit Wednesday. He did 38 reps on the bench press, which would have tied him for the top mark at the combine and was one off his personal best. He looked strong in all the position drills.
He checked in at 6-foot-4, 314 pounds, which was about 10 pounds less than his playing weight in the fall.
“I had to wait until after the combine when I got a second opinion to work out, but once I got it, I’ve been working hard,” he said.
Lotulelei made six All-America teams as a senior for the Utes following a season in which he had 42 tackles, including 11 for a loss. He also had five sacks, four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
He was projected by many to be one of the top picks in the April 25 draft until the medical exams revealed his condition. While he has slipped on some mock draft projections, Lotulelei hopes his performance Wednesday and future medical tests will help his position.
He has one visit scheduled with Philadelphia and expects more in the weeks leading up to the draft.
“I am taking it one day at a time and working hard and will keep hitting the gym and getting in better shape,” he said. “Hopefully in the drills I showed them I can move well for a big guy.”
Lotulelei said he would “think about” attending the draft if he gets an invitation.
“It would be nice to take my family back there,” he said.
Lotulelei wasn’t the only player out to prove his worth Wednesday. Fellow linemen Joe Kruger and Dave Kruger, receiver DeVonte Christopher, running back John White and returner Reggie Dunn were among the participants.
Out of all of them, Dunn created the most stir by running the 40 in 4.26 seconds. The 5-10, 172-pound Dunn set an NCAA record with five 100-yard kick returns in his career, including four in 2012, and finished with 1,482 career kick return yards.
“I didn’t get to play in any All-Star games or things like that, so I have been looking forward to this day,” Dunn said. “I caught the ball well and didn’t drop any passes and ran well in the shuttles, so I hope a team likes me and picks me up.”