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After follow-up testing, Star Lotulelei deemed healthy enough to play 'without restrictions'

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 10:47 a.m. MDT

Star Lotulelei runs a 40 during Utah Pro Day at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Star Lotulelei runs a 40 during Utah Pro Day at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

NFL braintrusts can breathe a little easier after recent cardiac evaluations showed Star Lotulelei's heart condition is no longer an issue.

The University of Utah product, once considered a lock as a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL draft, faced increased scrutiny and wariness from scouts after NFL Combine tests revealed his left ventricle operating at 44 percent efficiency.

Further tests, including a March 27 evaluation, revealed that Lotulelei's condition may have only been temporary, according to a report from the cardiology division of University of Utah Sciences Center.

The report, written by Dr. Josef Stehlik on April 1 and forwarded to DeseretNews.com by Lotulelei's agent, stated that the March 27 test "showed complete normalization of the heart muscle function," and stressed that the test itself was "thorough and comprehensive."

Stehlik's report concluded that it was "safe for [Lotulelei] to participate in professional athletics without restriction."

The report also referenced an earlier test which Lotulelei underwent a week after the NFL Combine, which included a treadmill stress test. That examination revealed that the condition discovered at the combine "appeared to have improved."

The series of tests sandwiched Lotulelei's Pro Day performance, which saw him run the 40-yard dash in 5.31 seconds and reach 38 225-pound bench repetitions. The showing had many NFL experts/pundits torn between the defensive tackle's talent and the health risks involved in drafting him among the first selections in April.

CBSSports.com's mock drafts had Lotulelei going between the ninth and 23rd picks in the first round. Foxsports.com had him going third overall to the Oakland Raiders, and ESPN.com had him pegged as the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Lotulelei's health would likely translate to two former Utah college standouts being drafted in the top ten, possibly the top five, in the NFL Draft. BYU product Ezekiel Ansah is also high on many draft experts' projections.

Matt Petersen is the Sports Web Editor for DeseretNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen.

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