With their first pick in the 2013 Draft the Carolina Panthers select Star Lotulelei
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.