Star Lotulelei ready to shine in the NFL

Published: Tuesday, April 23 2013 7:20 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Star Lotulelei isn’t like most other guys. The former University of Utah defensive lineman, who is projected to be one of the top picks in this week’s National Football League draft, has declined opportunities that many future pros wouldn’t turn down.

Lotulelei opted not to accept an invitation to be in New York City for the draft, choosing instead to watch the proceedings on television with family and friends at his parents' home in South Jordan. Months earlier — as a senior with the Utes — Lotulelei politely passed on several national magazine and broadcast requests.

“That’s Star. Star is not a guy that enjoys the limelight. He would rather just kind of do his thing,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “And it’s not to say that he’s cocky or arrogant because that’s the exact opposite of what he is. He’s very humble. He’s got a lot of humility. He’s just a great person and he just doesn’t feel real comfortable being in the spotlight.”

That’s fine, Whittingham continued, because Lotulelei marches to the beat of a different drummer — and in a good way.

“Star just likes to be with his family,” Whittingham said. “That’s his deal.”

Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake agrees with the description of the All-American. Sitake added to it by recalling a newspaper photo shoot last summer when Lotulelei would only participate in it if all of his teammates on the defensive line were included, not just the other starters.

“That’s just the kind of guy he is. He doesn’t want to bring a lot of attention to himself,” said Sitake, who just couldn’t imagine Lotulelei hanging out at Radio City Music Hall for the NFL draft. “I think going to New York and going through that whole thing would be just horrible for him to do that. Plus, he wants to share it with his family and friends. That’s just who he is.”

Lotulelei readily acknowledges that he’s a very private guy — family oriented and a real homebody. The 23-year-old and his wife, Fuiva, are the parents of daughters Arilani and Pesatina.

“It’s never been my dream to be famous. It’s never been the goal to be in the newspapers or the magazines,” Lotulelei said. “It’s just to get to a point where I can provide for my family. That’s what is most important to me.”

The spotlight, Lotulelei continued, is something he can do without. His focus is on giving his family everything they want, everything they deserve.

“That’s pretty much all I need,” he said. “That’s all I want.”

On Thursday, most likely sometime in the first 10 picks, Lotulelei’s longtime dream will become a reality. As per his wishes, he’ll learn his NFL destination in the company of family and friends in Utah — far away from the hustle and bustle of draft headquarters in New York City.

It’s a decision Lotulelei made a long time ago.

“I can’t take them all to New York, so I want all of them to be there and share the moment with me,” he said.

Lotulelei estimates that about 50 people will gather at the family home to watch the draft. They may do so, however, without him.

“I don’t think I’ll even be watching it. I’ll probably just let my family watch and maybe just send me a text or call me,” Lotulelei said. “I don’t know if I even want to be in the house. But we’ll see. I might take a little bike ride to the park or something, or go hide and play video games or something like that.”

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