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This daily series of 99 stories celebrates by the numbers some of the most notable names, dates, moments and memories related to the past and present of Notre Dame football.
Today, we look at No. 78 by remembering Ronnie Stanley’s career. The offensive tackle wore the number for the blue and gold from 2012-15.
The expectations were high from the moment Stanley committed to the Irish on Dec. 15, 2011. The 6-5, 315-pound lineman was a top-200 player coming out of high school, and the consensus No. 1 recruit from Nevada in the 2012 class. He attended famed Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, a high school powerhouse known for producing future NFL talent.
After a true freshman season during which he saw the field twice, Stanley became a three-year starter on the Irish offensive line, starting in 39 of Notre Dame’s 39 games from 2013-15. Stanley demonstrated his versatility early in his Irish career, switching from the right to left side following his sophomore year. He played all of his college football under offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who was at Notre Dame from 2012-17 and is now back on campus in the same role for the second time as of 2022.
Stanley was named Notre Dame Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2014, but the national awards really began to pile up during his senior season in 2015. Stanley was a consensus All-American in his final year of college football, earning first and second-team honors from nine publications, per his Notre Dame biography. He was a semifinalist for both the Lombardi Award (nation’s top lineman) and Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior lineman, although tackles are often considered) and was named the Notre Dame Offensive Player of the Year after that senior season.
The Nevada native was ultimately selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, joining a collection of former Irish offensive linemen to go in the first round. While a few other linemen have been selected at the No. 6 spot, only two have gone earlier in the history of the program: offensive tackles Art Hunter and George Kunz were taken No. 3 in 1954 and No. 2 in 1969, respectively.
While Stanley has dealt with injury issues recently, he is consistently referred to as one of the NFL’s top linemen. The paycheck reflects that. In 2020, the lineman signed a five-year, $98,750,000 contract extension (plus a $22,500,000 signing bonus) with the Baltimore Ravens, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL at the time.