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Football

Ronnie Stanley will return to Notre Dame, bypass NFL Draft

| Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl trophy is carried off the field.

The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl trophy is carried off the field.

Irish left tackle Ronnie Stanley will return to Notre Dame and bypass an early exit and the NFL Draft, Notre Dame announced Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m coming back,” Stanley tweeted. “1 year. 1 reason #Natty #ND”

“This was a difficult decision,” Stanley said in a press release. “My dream isn’t just to play in the National Football League. I want to win a national championship. I’ve waited to this point so I could watch the actual game and see if I felt any emotion, and I felt a great deal. I am a competitor. I want to play on the top stage so I’ve decided that I’m returning to Notre Dame for my senior year.

“We’ve got a chance to have a special season next year. Many of my teammates are returning and I’ve made strong bonds with lots of them. If all of them weren’t coming back this year it would’ve made it an easier decision to leave. All this, the opportunity to graduate, and much more, led to my decision to stay.”

Stanley, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, started at left tackle for the Irish in 2014 after manning right tackle in 2013. The Las Vegas native and all other underclassmen had until Thursday to declare for the NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-5.5, 315-pounder earned Notre Dame’s offensive lineman of the year award in December. Stanley allowed just one sack this season, the fewest of any Irish offensive lineman.

“Ronnie has developed into a premier offensive lineman,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a press release. “With another year at the position, and gaining more knowledge under the outstanding coaching of [offensive line coach] Harry Hiestand, Ronnie could be the best tackle in all of college football.

“I know this decision wasn’t an easy one for him, but, as his coach, I’m proud of the manner in which he handled it. He’s matured so much since he first arrived on campus, and this is just another example. Ronnie now has a chance to leave Notre Dame as both a graduate and first-round NFL pick.”

The Irish are now scheduled to return 20 of their 22 starters from the Music City Bowl against LSU. Notre Dame announced Saturday that Irish defensive lineman Sheldon Day will return as well.

Notre Dame’s spring semester began Tuesday with the first day of classes. Spring practice is scheduled to start March 2.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike