Lotulelei, who was a first-team All-American in 2012, joins former Utes Steve Smith and Jordan Gross on the Panthers.
"I'm thrilled to finally know where I will begin my professional football career," Lotulelei said. "I've heard great things about the Carolina organization and the city of Charlotte. I can't wait to get started."
Lotulelei is the highest drafted Utah player since Alex Smith went #1 overall in 2005. He was the sixth defensive player taken in the draft.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, some mock drafts had Lotulelei rated as a top-5 pick. But after being diagnosed with a heart problem at the NFL combine, his draft stock dropped.
After being retested at the University of Utah, it was determined that Star was healthy and able to resume normal football activities.
At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Lotulelei fills a big need along the Panthers defensive line. He is expected to become an immediate starter.
"What Star does is he impacts the game on every snap,” enthused new Panther general manager Dave Gettleman, who made the final call on picking Lotulelei. "The guy’s a player. He fits what we do. He’s very talented. He’s mature. And it gives us a chance. You look historically at the Super Bowl champions, and you show me one that’s had a bad defensive front. Doesn’t happen. I’m telling you.”
Lotulelei, who helped Bingham High win the state championship in 2006, is the highest drafted local high school player since Highland High's Haloti Ngata went 12th overall in 2006 to Baltimore, and fifth highest Utah prep product ever.
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).