SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the fourteenth pick.
Lotulelei, a 6-foot-2-inch, 311 pound Tongan native who graduated from Bingham High School in South Jordan, became a regular starter for the Utes in the 2011 season. That year, he shared the 2011 Morris Trophy for best Defensive lineman in the Pac-12 Conference.
In the 2012 season, Lotulelei recorded 42 tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. He also had four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
Lotulelei received a 92.0 grade in the NFL.com analysis. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers, who had a 7-9 record last season.
The following is a news release from the University of Utah about Lotulelei’s draft:
Utah All-America defensive tackle Star Lotulelei became the seventh first-round draft pick in Utah football history when he was chosen by the Carolina Panthers with the 14th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Lotulelei (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) will be teammates with former Utes Jordan Gross, a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 2003, and Steve Smith, a third-round Carolina pick in 2001. Gross, an offensive tackle, is a two-time Pro Bowler, while receiver Smith has made the Pro Bowl three times. Including Lotulelei, there are now 23 Utes on current NFL rosters.
Lotuelei is Utah’s fourth-highest overall draft choice behind Alex Smith (No. 1 in 2005, San Francisco), Gross (No. 8 in 2003, Carolina) and Lee Grosscup (No. 10 in 1959, New York Giants).
He made six All-America teams as a senior and was named first-team all-Pac-12 Conference in 2011 and 2012. He won the 2011 Morris Trophy, which is awarded to the Pac-12’s best defensive lineman by vote of the league’s starting offensive linemen.
At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Lotulelei was double and even triple teamed on virtually every play, yet his 42 tackles in 2012 included a team-high 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also had four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and led the conference with four fumble recoveries.
The 23-year-old South Jordan, Utah, native attended Bingham High School and Snow College before signing with Utah. He could graduate from the U. as early as this summer with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He is married (Fuiva) with two daughters.