Data Scout Notes: 2012: WCamp1st/1stC/AP1st...PLombardi/PNagurski/POutland/PBednarik/PLott...2011: MorrisTrophyWinner/1stC...2010: NA
Star Lotulelei/Utah football Videos
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STAR LOTULELEI DT Utah Utes #92 6031 320 5.14 South Jordan, Utah Bingham High School
Rarely does a player come along who so thoroughly dominates his competition that he generates buzz across the entire nation despite posting only average statistics and playing in a relatively small media market. That is precisely what 6-3, 318-pound defensive tackle Star Lotulelei accomplished for Utah.
Recognized by Pac-12 offensive linemen as the best defensive lineman in the conference with the Morris Trophy in 2011, Lotulelei posted 44 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks despite facing consistent double- and even occasional triple-team blocks in 2011.
He battled through the same level of attention from defensive coordinators in 2012, and still earned his second selection to the All-Pac-12 first team. He finished the regular season with a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks to go along with four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
Lotulelei, who was born in Tonga, is married with a daughter. He prepped at Bingham High School in South Jordan, where he was part of a state championship team.
He then spent two years at Snow College, racking up 52 tackles, 14 for losses, three sacks and a forced fumble in 2008. He attended Snow again in 2009, but did not play football before transferring to Utah.
Lotulelei's once rock-solid status as a top half of the first round selection took a major hit when his medical check at the Scouting Combine revealed a heart issue. He immediately returned home and began undergoing a battery of tests from doctors. Rob Rang reported in early April that Lotulelei had passed the "gold standard" of heart tests, but many teams are likely to remove him from their draft boards nonetheless.
STRENGTHS: Boasts all of the physical traits to ultimately rank as one of the better, more versatile defensive linemen in the NFL.
Flashes an explosive burst off the snap. Possesses the lateral agility and flexibility to slip through gaps and ruin plays before they even have a chance to begin.
Strong, heavy hands to control his opponent and possesses the upper and core strength to simply rag-doll offensive linemen. Possesses a thick, classic Polynesian build well suited to anchoring against the run, making him a natural candidate to play inside at nose guard or defensive tackle, as well as a five-technique defensive end.
Has a developing arm-over swim move to break free from blockers when initially slowed at the point of attack. Locates the ball well and gives good effort in lateral pursuit to make the tackle. Has only average arm length but is very strong, showing the ability to grab and pull down ballcarriers seemingly out of his grasp. Has a short-area burst to close on the ball and can generate impressive explosiveness as a hitter.
Seemed to step up his play against top competition, enjoying some of his best moments against USC (and highly regarded senior center Khaled Holmes), as well as state rivals BYU and Utah State.
WEAKNESSES: The heart condition that was identified at the combine will result in Lotulelei being removed entirely from some teams' draft boards. However, he has passed a battery of medical exams and the team that takes a chance on Lotulelei could wind up with a steal if he proves healthy long-term.
On the field, he battles consistency. Relies too much on his unique physical traits to overcome rather marginal technique. Does not possess an elaborate array of pass rush moves and has just seven sacks in 38 career games at Utah. Too often is stale-mated when his initial burst and power are contained.
Possesses shorter than ideal arms, which contributes to his struggles slipping blocks and his relative lack of passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage (five over his career).
Carries a bit of extra weight around his midsection and played at Snow Junior College in 2008 at more than 350 pounds. Will be slightly older than most prospects (turned 23 in December) after sitting out the 2009 season.
COMPARES TO: Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings -- While a touch shorter than the Vikings' former All-Pro, Lotulelei offers a similarly dominant combination of quickness and power and should one day rank among the league's best interior defensive linemen.
First-team all-Pac-12 ... won the Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman ... Most Valuable Lineman of the Sun Bowl ... started all 13 games at tackle ... 9.0 tackles for loss tied for second on the team ... 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery ... made six tackles and recovered a fumble in Utah's Sun Bowl win over Georgia Tech ... seven tackles against UCLA included an assisted TFL ... six tackles vs. Washington included 2.5 TFL ... five tackles against Arizona State ... two of three tackles against Colorado went for a loss (one sack) ... forced a fumble against BYU ... caught a 17-yard reception on a fake punt play against Cal.
Played in all 13 games, earning a starting job at tackle for the final three games of the regular season ... 21 total tackles with 2.5 TFL and a half sack ... five tackles and a half sack against San Jose State... four tackles vs. TCU included one TFL ... four tackles vs. Wyoming ... also made several cameo appearances at offensive guard.
Lotulelei, a two-time first-team all-Pac-12 selection, finished the season with 42 tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. The senior also had four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He lead the Pac-12 and was tied for second in the nation in fumble recoveries (4) entering bowl season.
Played for Snow College in 2008, making 52 tackles with 14 TFL, three sacks and one forced fumble ... also attended Snow in 2009 but did not play football ...
Prepped at Bingham High (Utah), where he was first-team all-state by both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News ... 72 tackles and seven sacks as a senior in 2007 ... Bingham went 14-0 and won the state title.
Son of Star Lotulelei, Sr. ... married (Angelina) with a daughter Arilani ... sociology major ... full name is Starlite Lotulelei (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) ... born in Tonga on Dec. 20, 1989.
Draft Scout Player News
09/11/17 - DT Star Lotulelei recovered a fumble for the second time in his career, against the 49ers. Perhaps as important, he was praised by head coach Ron Rivera for his ability to be a space eater up front.
07/29/16 - DT Star Lotulelei was limited in Thursday's practice with hamstring tightness.
04/27/16 - DT Star Lotulelei had his fifth-year option picked up by the Panthers Tuesday (April 26) and is now bound to the franchise through the 2017 season.
Lotulelei, a first-round pick in 2013 out of Utah, started 14 games last season and is described by Gettleman as a difference-maker in the middle of the Panthers' defensive line.
"Star has not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination, and he's getting better," Gettleman said. "He's earned this. I'm excited we're going to have him around for two more years."
The Panthers have a pair of standout defensive tackles. Kawann Short was Gettleman's second-round pick out of Purdue in 2013 and can become a free agent after this season. Carolina does not have the luxury of a team option because of Short's draft slot. He was a first-time Pro Bowl pick in 2015.
Lotulelei will earn $6.757 million in 2017 under the terms of his fifth-year team option, which is automatic for first-round picks under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. For picks 11-32 in the first round, the fifth-year salary is the average of the third-through 25th highest salaries at a player's position.
12/02/15 - DT Star Lotulelei (ankle) was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
11/28/15 - DT Star Lotulelei sprained his ankle on the first series of Thursday's game. His status for Week 13 is up in the air.