The news was expected, but now it’s official.
Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley told reporters Monday that he intends to declare for the NFL draft after the Irish face Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. Stanley said the decision not to return for his final season of eligibility was an easy one.
“I knew if I came back this would be the last year,” Stanley said per the South Bend Tribune. “That wasn’t really something I thought about.”
Stanley, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound redshirt junior, has started 38 straight games on the Notre Dame offensive line. He is considered to be a surefire first round pick.
In his final collegiate game, he’ll get a huge test in Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa is also a top pro prospect.
“You have to look at it as you’re preparing yourself for the next level,” Stanley said of the Bosa matchup. “This game is definitely an opportunity for me to take advantage and really showcase my skills of being a top tackle.”
Notre Dame has several other top juniors – linebacker Jaylon Smith, wide receiver Will Fuller and running back C.J. Prosise – who have yet to make an official decision about their futures. According to CSN Chicago, Smith said Monday that he has not yet heard back from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, a group which evaluates prospects to help them decide whether to stay in college or go pro. Fuller and Prosise previously told reporters that they will wait to make a final decision after receiving their evaluations from the Advisory Board.
Fuller previously told reporters last month that he plans to return in 2016.
For more Notre Dame news, visit BlueAndGold.com.
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