Notre Dame is riding a wave of momentum following its bowl win over LSU last month, and Ronnie Stanley apparently wants to keep things going.
"This was a difficult decision," Stanley said. "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.
Stanley (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) effortlessly moved from the right side to the blind side to replace Zack Martin, now of the Dallas Cowboys. Stanley allowed just one sack all season and was able to contain the Tigers' pass rush in the Music City Bowl enough to help the team secure a win and likely top 25 ranking next season.
"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," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "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."
NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said Stanley was one of 10 underclassmen who should stay in school, saying it would benefit him to see even more reps at left tackle and polish his game.
With a daunting schedule for the Irish and a number of pass rushers coming up in 2015, Stanley should be able to accomplish that before moving on to the 2016 NFL Draft after his senior season.