Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley will enter NFL Draft


In a decision he said wasn't much of a decision at all, Notre Dame redshirt junior left tackle Ronnie Stanley confirmed Monday he'll turn pro and enter the NFL Draft following the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1.

Stanley, who's widely projected to be picked in the first half of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, will train in Las Vegas next year before returning to Notre Dame for the latter half of the spring semester to finish his degree.

Convincing Stanley to stay at Notre Dame was one of Brian Kelly & Co.'s biggest coups in the last five years. A delegation of Notre Dame personnel traveled to Las Vegas in January to try to persuade Stanley to forgo entering the 2015 NFL Draft, and keeping him on campus to anchor a strong Irish offensive line paid off massively in a 10-2 season.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame fans!]

But Stanley's plan, from the moment he decided to stay, was to turn pro after the 2015 season concluded. Kelly said last week he didn't have any expectation Stanley would return for a fifth year, either.

"I knew if I came back this would be the last year," Stanley said. "It wasn't really something I thought about."

Stanley was one of five Notre Dame players to submit requests for evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Junior linebacker Jaylon Smith said Monday he hasn't heard back from the board, while junior wide receiver Will Fuller and redshirt junior running back C.J. Prosise both said earlier this month they'll wait to receive those evaluations before making a final decision. Senior cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who suffered a fractured tibia Nov. 21 against Boston College and was academically suspended for the 2014 season, would have to appeal through the NCAA to be granted a fifth year of eligibility if he did choose to stay at Notre Dame. 

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