Ronnie Stanley to return for senior season

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Notre Dame junior Ronnie Stanley announced Tuesday that he will return for his senior season, giving the Irish one of the best left tackles in college football for another season. After being projected by some as a first round pick, Stanley made the decision to return for 2015.

“This was a difficult decision,” Stanley said in an official release by UND.com. “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.”

As Brian Kelly and the Irish staff do their best to close the 2015 recruiting class strong, they just reeled in a six-star recruit, solidifying an offensive line that has a chance to be dominant next season. And after emerging as a premier athlete at left tackle, Stanley has the ability to return to South Bend for an offseason that’ll build him into a readymade starter at the next level.

“Ronnie has developed into a premier offensive lineman,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “With another year at the position, and gaining more knowledge under the outstanding coaching of 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.”

Just days after the announced return of Sheldon Day, the groundwork is laid for a big 2015 season. That started with the upset victory of LSU in the Music City Bowl, where Kelly praised Stanley’s leadership ability. Keeping the Las Vegas native on campus returns one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects in South Bend for another season.