The seemingly inevitable is now official.
Ronnie Stanley will cap his Notre Dame career in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, turning pro a year after he nearly made that same jump, only to return for his senior season and get a shot at a national championship.
“Pretty easy,” Stanley said. “I knew if I came back that this would be the last year.”
A year ago the NFL’s committee that advises underclassmen deemed the left tackle a probable second round pick. Stanley doesn’t need that feedback this time around with the senior all but assured to go in the first half of the first round next spring. If Stanley cracks the Top 10 he’ll be looking at a four-year contract valued at approximately $12 million.
Enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business and majoring in management entrepreneurship, Stanley is on track to graduate from Notre Dame next spring. He said he’ll likely train in Las Vegas for the draft, then return to Notre Dame for the second half of the second semester to earn his degree.
While Stanley won’t get that national championship shot he craved, the consensus All-American has no regrets about returning. He also didn’t down play the disappointment of not getting that title shot.
“Playoffs, that was our goal, that was our mission, that was everything that we were going for,” Stanley said. “We came up short on that end. We still have another game to play in, we’re not looking at this any less than a national championship and coming out with the same attitude.”
Stanley, the first Irish consensus All-American on the offensive line since Zack Martin, likely played his way up most NFL Draft boards with the decision to return, which makes financial sense. He also was part of one of the better offensive lines in recent memory at Notre Dame, a group that was a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, designed to honor the best collective group at the position.
While Stanley would rather focus on the Fiesta Bowl and Ohio State instead of his NFL Draft position, how he fares against the Buckeyes may help determine his draft slot. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa could go No. 1 overall next spring, making the New Year’s Day matchup a potential Sunday preview.
“You gotta look at it,” Stanley said. “You’re preparing yourself for the next level and this game is definitely an opportunity for me to take advantage and really showcase my skills of me being a top tackle.”