Draft prospect Lotulelei has heart ailment; Te'o fizzles

2013-02-26T00:00:00Z 2013-03-24T19:05:03Z Draft prospect Lotulelei has heart ailment; Te'o fizzlesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS - Top draft prospect Star Lotulelei will undergo more extensive heart tests when he returns to Utah.

Doctors at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis found the defensive tackle and likely high pick has a heart condition, Lotulelei's agent, Bruce Tollner, told The Associated Press in a series of emails Monday.

Tollner said Lotulelei would not take questions regarding the diagnosis yet. But the 6-foot-2, 311-pound defensive tackle still plans to do a full workout in front of scouts at his regularly scheduled Pro Day on March 20. The Tonga native was scheduled to fly to Utah on Monday night, Tollner said.

ESPN first reported Lotulelei has a left ventricle that is not operating at maximum capacity.

Meanwhile, Manti Te'o's first appearance on a field since the BCS championship game didn't go as well as planned Monday.

The Notre Dame star linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner-up was clocked at 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had said anything faster than 4.7 would be "phenomenal." Anything 4.8 or over would be a "concern."

The workout comes more than a month after Te'o's highly publicized online romance with a girlfriend was exposed as a hoax and that Te'o was a victim of the hoax.

Lotulelei's professional future could depend heavily on what doctors find. The Utah standout is considered one of the best prospects in this year's draft. He is trying to join Alex Smith as the only players from the University of Utah to go No. 1 overall; San Francisco took Smith with the top pick in 2005.

"You're going to have to get all kinds of second and third opinions," Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

When asked whether the Cardinals would remove Lotulelei from their draft board if those doctors confirmed the diagnosis, Arians said: "That's exactly what would happen."

Uncovering information like this is the reason the combine actually began in the late 1980s. Coaches and general managers have said for years that medical checks are a crucial component of the combine, perhaps the most important data they get all week so they can make informed decisions on draft weekend.

"The No. 1 reason that this started was for medical reasons, and you bring everybody here and have a chance to look at 300-plus guys, X-rays, MRIs, and get your hands on those guys," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Thursday. "... It's all just part of the big picture."

This is not the first time a big-name player has been diagnosed with an illness or injury at the combine.

In 2009, doctors found a small stress fracture in the left foot of receiver Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was still chosen No. 10 overall by San Francisco and had a breakout season in 2012.

It's also not unusual for doctors to send players with medical questions from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the combine is held, to a nearby hospital for more extensive examination.

Among those hoping to prove they will be healthy enough to play this season are running back Marcus Lattimore, trying to return from last fall's gruesome knee injury, and top-rated cornerback Dee Milliner, who said he will undergo surgery next month for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

The NFL future of three players - defensive lineman Walter Stewart, linebacker Jarvis Jones and defensive back D.J. Hayden - will depend on what doctors tell teams. Stewart and Jones were both diagnosed with congenital spinal conditions and told to give up football. Both were later cleared to return to the sport. Hayden said he tore the main artery to his heart in a practice collision in November.

But teams already knew about those conditions before coming to the combine. Lotulelei's situation came as a major surprise.

Arians said he was "shocked" that the problem had not been detected before now.

"We're talking about a heart," Arians said. "That's huge. We're not talking about a knee or a shoulder."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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