Star Lotulelei: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Utah Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulelei is an interesting prospect. It wasn't too long ago that many major draft outlets had him ranked as the No. 1 overall player.
A scary situation at the combine as it related to the health of his heart quickly became cause for alarm. While this minor hiccup forced him out of the annual event in Indianapolis, he has since been cleared for full football participation (via CBS Sports).
While teams will definitely do their research about Star's health concerns, he is still considered a top-10 prospect and will help some franchise improve a great deal along the defensive line.
Let's take a look at five things you simply must know about the Utah product as his ultimate dream of becoming an NFL player becomes a reality.
Full Name: Star Lotulelei (December 20, 1989)
Hometown: South Jordan, Utah via Kingdom of Tonga
High School School: Bingham High School
Star is one of only a few Tongan players in the National Football League (more on that later). At 24 years old, Star has two children and is married. His sociology major is a route that many collegiate football players have taken in school (via CBS Sports).
While some conclude that sociology is nothing more than a cruise major, I for one can attest to the fact that it is more difficult than it may seem.
Star didn't academically qualify for BYU out of high school, which was his first choice. Instead, the massive defensive tackle spent time playing junior college ball before getting a shot with his home-state Utah Utes (via CBS Sports).
In fact, he delivered furniture in between junior college stints and his career at Utah.
Needless to say, Star isn't what you'd call a bookworm or a standout in education. His primary path toward success in life was always going to be football.
2010 (Sophomore): 13 games, 21 tackles, seven solo, 2.5 for loss, 0.5 sacks
2011 (Junior): 13 games, 43 tackles, 16 solo, nine for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble
20120 (Senior): 12 games, 42 tackles, 25 solo, 10 for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles
Star Lotulelei was a standout against the run from his first season as a regular player for Utah's defense. While he didn't necessarily get into the offensive backfield as a disruptive force in 2010, you could tell he was going to be among the best interior defensive linemen in the country in relatively short order.
Overall, Star finished his collegiate career as a two-time All-Pac-12 performer on defense and won the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the conference back in 2011. That award is nothing to take too lightly, considering that previous winners include such NFL notables as Stephen Paea, Sedrick Ellis and Haloti Ngata.
All statistics provided by CFB Stats.
Weight: 311 pounds
Arm Length: 33 5/8"
Hands: 9 3/4"
Pro Day Results
Note: Lotulelei didn't participate in the combine.
40-Yard Dash: 5.31 and 5.36
Vertical Leap: 30.0"
Three-Cone Drill: 7.76
Bench Press: 38 reps at 225 pounds
It is by now well documented that Star did not take part in the NFL scouting combine back in February due to what was an incident relating to his heart at the event in Indianapolis.
After being cleared to participate in football activity, Star was out in full force during Utah's pro day. Doug Farrar of Yahoo! filed the following report...
On Wednesday, Utah held its pro day, and Lotulelei got another chance to prove to NFL teams what he couldn't in Indianapolis. By all accounts, be absolutely nailed it. Multiple reports indicated that the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Lotulelei put up 38 reps on the 225-pound bench press, had a 30-inch vertical leap, ran the three-cone drill in 7.76 seconds, and the short shuttle in 4.65 seconds.
For what it's worth, the 7.76 Star ran in the three-cone drill surpassed what "more athletic" defensive tackle prospects such as Sylvester Williams and Brandon Williams ran at the combine. His 38 bench-press reps would have tied him with Margus Hunt and the aforementioned Brandon Williams as the best among defensive line prospects at the combine.
All measurements provided by NFL.com.
All pro day numbers provided by Yahoo!
I thought it would be interesting to provide some insight about Star's place of birth.
The nation of Tonga is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is near the more famous vacation locale of Fiji. It is comprised of 176 different islands and is about as beautiful of a location as you can find in the world.
It has a long history and was part of the British Empire back in the early 20th century. Tonga finally gained its independence from British rule in 1970 and runs a constitutional monarchy, much like its former ruling empire.
Tonga has a population of just over 100,000 and is spread out over 289 square miles. The most popular Tongan to ever play in the NFL is current Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Despite performing extremely well at Bingham High School in Utah, Lotulelei wasn't exactly what you would call a highly touted recruit back in 2010. He failed to get into BYU out of high school and had to enroll in a community college before getting a shot to play for Utah.
Rivals ranked him 57th overall among defensive tackles and gave him a pedestrian grade of 5.5, which ranked him in the top 750 in the nation in recruiting.
Needless to say, Star didn't come to Utah with much fanfare.
We all know how that turned out.
What Social Media Is Saying About Star Lotulelei
While there seems to be a pretty big split as it relates to most positions in the 2013 NFL draft, I would have to conclude that defensive tackle is likely the most divisive. Sheldon Richardson, Sharrif Floyd and Lotulelei have all been mentioned as top-five prospects.
Star's health scare at the combine didn't help matters, but it seems he has rebounded since. Via SportsCenter's Twitter account:
Utah DT Star Lotulelei, top pick in Todd McShay's mock draft, has been cleared to work out after health concerns kept him out of combine.
This is probably the biggest news to have broken since that scare in Indianapolis. If proven healthy, which it seems Star has been, there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn't go in the top five. He has the skill set, size and strength to be a dominating force along the interior of a defensive line.
It seems that our very own Matt Miller concurs:
Excited to hear Utah DT Star Lotulelei has been cleared by doctors. He has top-5 potential in this class.
Look for Star to go somewhere in the top 10 in the draft. His best fits seems to be the Oakland Raiders.
Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. He was hired prior to the 2011 season and couldn't be happier working with a great group of individuals here. In addition, Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET, and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.
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