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Utah football: Lotulelei’s pro future uncertain after exam reveals heart condition

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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah football player Star Lotulelei, Tuesday, May 29 2012 in Salt Lake City.

By Lya Wodraska

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 24 2013 06:13PM
Updated Feb 25, 2013 09:26AM

Star Lotulelei, the former Utah defensive lineman who was projected to be one of the first players taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, faces an uncertain future after an echocardiogram detected a heart condition during tests at the NFL scouting combine.

Lotulelei’s agent, Bruce Tollner, told NFL.com that Lotulelei was asked to sit out workouts until he consults with a specialist. Lotulelei will see a specialist this week and plans to take part in all the tests at Utah’s pro day on March 20, Tollner told NFL.com.

Lotulelei was the top-rated defensive tackle on NFLDraftScout.com’s board, but a medical concern as serious as a heart condition could make his stock drop or jeopardize a future in the pros for the South Jordan resident.

ESPN is reporting that Lotulelei’s left ventricle is pumping at 44 percent efficiency compared with the normal range of 55 to 70 percent.

University of Utah sports information director Liz Abel said she was unaware what heart tests Lotuelelei underwent during physicals at Utah.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Lotulelei 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.

He also had four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham did not immediately return phone messages.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill was sympathetic to Lotulelei’s situation.

"He’s such a great guy that hearing something like this just breaks your heart," he said. "We all wish him well and hope that whatever the issue is gets worked out."

Lotulelei will continue to interview with teams at the combine.

Also participating in the combine is Joe Kruger, the former defensive end who decided to leave Utah following his junior year.

The 6-7, 280-pound Kruger earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors after finishing with six sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Tony Jones contributed to this article.

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