Ronnie Stanley Sr. knew this moment would come eventually. He just didn’t expect his son to face the reality of an NFL Draft decision after two years of college football.
Now Notre Dame faces the possibility of losing its starting left tackle for a second straight season as Ronnie Stanley Jr., continues to weigh the next step of his football career. Ultimately, that next step will take Stanley to the NFL, it’s just not clear when he’ll make it.
“It has to be him making the decision, he has to deal with everything,” Stanley Sr. said. “He’s still in the process of weighing the pros and cons. Once you make that decision you can’t go back and forth and you shouldn’t have to want to go back on the decision. You make the decision and you live with it.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 15, three days after the start of Notre Dame’s spring semester. Stanley Sr. said he was unclear on his son’s travel plans to return to South Bend this weekend or next week.
Stanley Sr. said his son is on track to graduate next December.
“You have to weigh the education piece and that’s the only part we’re looking at, going to the NFL now or staying in school and getting your degree,” Stanley Sr. said. “For me, it’s as simple as that.
“These are the types of decisions that you have to make and for some people it’s about going to the NFL and making some money, that’s why they went to school. That’s not the reason why we came to Notre Dame. We wanted to have other choices, other places to go.”
A source told Irish Illustrated that Stanley had received a second round grade from the NFL’s Underclassman Advisory Committee, although Stanley Sr. did not confirm that.
The league changed its evaluation process this year after a record number of underclassmen declared for last year’s draft. Now the NFL offers first round, second round and “stay in school” grades. Sheldon Day, who also continues to weigh his NFL future, received a “stay in school” grade.
Notre Dame began the process of recruiting Stanley to return almost a month ago through Kelly and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. Stanley also spoke with Zack Martin, who started four years at Notre Dame, was a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys and became the only rookie to make the Pro Bowl.
The Irish staff made a recent trip to Las Vegas to meet with Stanley.
“There have been a lot of things to happen and happen quickly since Ronnie got on the field,” Stanley Sr. said. “At this time I don’t think he’s made a decision, at least not that we know about. It’s a big decision.
“A lot of people go to college with the intention of coming out after three years, so when they go into school they’re ready for this. We knew this was going to happen eventually, but we didn’t think it would happen so soon. Playing two years, all of a sudden, bam, you’re on the radar.”