According to ESPN insider Chris Mortensen, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who is widely viewed as the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2013 class, was diagnosed with an unidentified heart condition during his medical examinations in Indianapolis.
Per Mortensen's tweet, Lotulelei will not work out at this year's NFL Scouting Combine.
Chris Mortensen @mortreport
Utah DT Star Lotulelei, projected top five 5 draft pick, will not work out after echocardiogram detected heart condition. Filed to ESPN.2/24/2013, 10:28:48 PM
UPDATE: Monday, Feb. 25, at 1:08 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
USA Today's Mike Garafolo has the latest on elite prospect Star Lotulelei's untimely heart condition:
After withdrawing from the NFL scouting combine because of an abnormal heart exam, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has been told he can continue working out on his own, according to a person informed of the conversations between doctors and the potential top-five draft pick.
The person said it's hoped that it's not a heart condition but rather dehydration, too much sodium in his diet or rapid weight loss in a short timeframe that prompted tests to reveal his heart wasn't pumping at full capacity. Lotulelei dropped almost 10 pounds in three days recently, in part because of the hectic schedule of traveling to the combine and the long days in Indianapolis.
---End of update---
The news comes as the first big shock from the player physicals in Indianapolis and could put the young DT's NFL career in jeopardy before it even starts.
According to USA Today's Mike Garafolo, Lotulelei's agent has informed NFL personnel that his client will see a heart specialist later in the week before completing all of the drills he was scheduled to participate in at the combine (40-yard dash, etc.) at Utah's pro day.
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Agent for Star Latulelei said his client will see a heart specialist later this week. Expects him to do everything at his pro day.2/24/2013, 10:40:22 PM
Lotulelei was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the country during his past two seasons at Utah. As a junior and senior, he compiled 86 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while also forcing four fumbles.
With teams like Jacksonville, Oakland and Cleveland all looking for defensive line help, Lotulelei was listed as the No. 1 defensive tackle on the board and the likely selection for the first team that picked a defensive tackle in the first round.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first heart condition that has rocked the NFL in recent months.
Houston's Arian Foster opted against any kind of heart surgery (per NFL.com) after it was determined that he left the Texans' Dec. 23 game with an irregular heartbeat. It appears he is going to be monitored over the offseason, and for good reason—heart issues are obviously extremely serious.
That's likely why doctors haven't cleared Lotulelei to participate at this year's combine.
More information is sure to emerge regarding what kind of battles (if any) Lotulelei will face on his way to the stage in New York City. We wish him the best this week as he continues to visit specialists and hope that his health concerns are manageable in the long term.