Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2012.
There were nine this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at one of the team's most promising young offensive tackles.
Offensive Tackle, Ronnie Stanley
Weight: 304 pounds
247: 4-star, No. 16 OT, No. 1 Nevada, No. 145 nationally, 95 grade
ESPN: 4-star, No. 34 OT, No. 1 Nevada, 79 grade
Rivals: 4-star, No. 15 OT, No. 1 Nevada, No. 176 nationally
Scout: 4-star, No. 11 OT, No. 66 nationally
Composite: 4-star, No. 13 OT, No. 1 Nevada, No. 127 nationally
Need at Position: High
Expected Spot on 2013 Depth Chart: Back-up, possibly starting
Stanley was the highly touted member of a small 2-member offensive line class last year (the other being Mark Harrell) who looked like a long-term solution at tackle for the Fighting Irish. That career for Stanley might actually happen a lot sooner than we originally believed.
In fact, Stanley did play last season.
He was working at 2nd team tackle heading in to August but then redshirt sophomore Tate Nichols went down with an injury and redshirt freshman Jordan Prestwood left the program. Stanely then played some mop-up duty in Ireland against Navy and came in against Purdue for at least one snap after Zack Martin's helmet came off.
However, we're still considering Stanley a redshirt because his season was shut down because of elbow surgery and he did not play in the team's remaining 11 games.
For 2013, Stanley will have a great opportunity to see the field in what will essentially be a redshirt freshman campaign.
If Tate Nichols can't recover from his injury (or is slow to recovery in fall camp) that might immediately thrust Stanley in to a starting spot next year. I'm of the opinion that Lombard should move inside irregardless because the line could use some more size and get Stanley's athleticism and reach out at right tackle.
At the same time, it wouldn't surprise me if the staff is unwilling to move a starter (Lombard) from his position and they keep Stanley from starting in 2013. Still, there really isn't a candidate besides Nick Martin really jumping out as someone who is going to grab one of the center/guard spots that are opening up with the losses of Cave and Golic.
It's tough to gauge how good Stanley is or could be by next fall but he's legitimately one of the biggest and most athletic tackles the Irish have recruited over the past 5+ years, if not longer. With so little experience at tackle behind the incumbent starters, it's difficult to think Stanley won't be seeing a lot of minutes in 2013.
Right now, I have Stanley starting at right tackle in my early 2013 depth chart but we'll see how things shake out over the spring first.