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Utah football: New tests show Lotulelei's heart in normal range

Published April 1, 2013 6:23 pm

College football • His NFL draft stock could rise again with latest findings
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Star Lotulelei's draft stock, which slipped in some experts' opinions after testing at the combine revealed he had a heart condition, could rise again based on his latest round of testing.

Recent testing revealed he has "no evidence of dysfunction," and that medical exams found his heart function performed "consistently with that of highly trained athletes," according to Dave Petron, Utah's team physician.

Lotulelei was a top three pick in many mock drafts before a medical exam performed at the NFL combine found Lotulelei's left ventricle was operating at just 44 percent efficiency instead of the normal range of 55 to 70 percent.

A repeat of the echocardiogram test administered to Lotulelei in Utah shortly after the combine showed the efficiency was improving, leaving most to believe the abnormality might have been caused by a virus.

Lotulelei didn't undergo a repeat of the test last week, but did have an MRI performed, which Petron said was "the gold standard," for testing.

"There was no evidence of a dysfunction so we think it was transient in nature," he said of the low output discovered at the combine.

None of the tests performed showed anything that concerned Petron in regards to Lotulelei's future.

"There was no reason why he couldn't continue on in an athletic career," he said.

Lotulelei, who participated in all the drills at Utah's pro day, said he was going to the "combine re-check," a review of NFL draft prospects' medical concerns that was held over the weekend in Indianapolis.

Neither he nor his agent returned messages Monday.

In current mock drafts, Lotulelei is picked to go No. 9 in one CBSSports.com projection and No. 23 in another CBSSports.com poll and No. 1 in a NFL.com analysis.

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 in 2012.

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