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Road to the Draft: Star Lotulelei

By Mark Gaughan

Star Lotulelei

Position: Defensive tackle.
School: Utah.
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.

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2013 draft | Road to the Draft
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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