Star Lotulelei's participation at the NFL scouting combine was cut short after exams found his left ventricle was pumping only at 44 percent efficiency, it is too early to know just how serious a situation it is and if his pro career is in jeopardy according to Dr. David James Petron, who serves as the team physician for the University of Utah athletic teams.
Petron, who could not speak directly about Lotulelei's case out of privacy concerns, said everything from a false positive on the echocardiogram test, to previous heart attacks to abnormally sized hearts could result in lower heart outputs.
According to an echocardiogram performed Sunday at the NFL scouting combine, Lotulelei's left ventricle is pumping at 44 percent efficiency compared to the normal range of 55 to 70 percent.
Lotulelei, projected to be one of the first players taken in the 2013 NFL draft, sat out other physical tests at the combine but is expected to participate in all of them at Utah's pro day on March 20.
"There are a lot more tests that need to be done," Petron said. "Typically in that situation someone will undergo an MRI or stress echo test to see how the heart reacts to exercise. Sometimes they start pumping normally."
Petron said the majority of schools such as Utah don't include echocardiograms in their general physical assessments because they are expensive and there are often other indications there might be a problem, which would lead to further testing.
Lotulelei had no such issues during his standout career at Utah. As a junior he was a first-team all-Pac-12 honoree and won the 2011 Morris Trophy which goes to the league's best defensive lineman as voted on by the starting offensive linemen. He made six All-America teams as a senior and was a first-team all-Pac-12 Conference player. The nose tackle finished with 42 tackles including a team-high 11 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2012.
He also had four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
While Lotulelei sat out Monday's testing, Joe Kruger went through his. The defensive end who decided to leave Utah a year early graded out at 73.
He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.83, got in 24 reps on the bench press and had a 34-inch vertical jump.
- Lya Wodraska
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