By Mark Gaughan
Position: Defensive tackle.
Measurements: 6-foot-3, 315 pounds.
2012 stats: 12 games, 5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss.
Draft projection: Top 10 overall (pending medical update)
Lowdown: Lotulelei is a massive body who can plug a big gap against double teams in the middle of the line of scrimmage. He may be a top-five pick if he is fully medically cleared. He was not allowed to work out at the combine because he was discovered to have a heart condition. His left ventricle was pumping at below-normal efficiency. Until we hear otherwise, the presumption is his NFL career is on track. Utah’s pro day is March 20.
Lotulelei (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) was born in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga and moved to Utah at age 9. He’s named after his father, Sitaliti, which is Tongan for Starlite, and he has gone by Star since a young age. His father is a Mormon seminary teacher and has a doctorate from Brigham Young. Lotulelei failed to qualify academically and spent his first year after high school delivering furniture for a store in Salt Lake City. He played the 2008 season for Utah’s Snow College and helped that school reach the junior college national championship game. He took the 2009 season off because he struggled to find passion for the game. He says the year off made him realize he missed football. He enrolled at Utah, where he started the last 28 games of his career. He was first-team All-Pac 12 as a junior and first-team All-America as a senior.
The most accomplished native Tongan in the NFL was Vai Sikahema, who played eight years in the ‘80s and ‘90s and made two Pro Bowls. Current star defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Sione Pouha both are of Tongan ancestry but were born and raised in the United States.
The Buffalo News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to next month's NFL Draft.
tagged2013 draft | Road to the Draft