SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- His head coach might feel otherwise, but Ronnie Stanley hasn't looked at himself as a freshman through a week and a half of fall practice.
The left tackle doesn't really have a choice right now, having been thrown into the No. 2 role after Jordan Prestwood left Notre Dame because of what the program said were personal reasons.
"Prestwood was a good kid, was a great athlete as well. It's just unfortunate things happen," Stanley said. "But I just knew I had to be ready. I don't look at myself as just being like a freshman. I'm a part of the team. You can't see yourself like that, so I just look at myself, I just need to be ready like everyone else is ready, like the seniors are. I need to be ready."
Brian Kelly said following Prestwood's departure that he hoped he wouldn't have to use Stanley in game action, despite the freshman taking practice reps behind starter Zack Martin. Kelly said second-team right tackle Tate Nichols and the versatile Nick Martin -- Zach's little brother, and the current No. 2 right guard -- could both be in the mix with Stanley for the second-team left tackle role.
Stanley credited the elder Martin, who has started all 26 games the past two seasons, with helping him develop footwork and pick up blitzes.
Having played AAU hoops until this summer, Stanley has been able to keep up with the running and conditioning portions of camp. Being thrown into the fire due to circumstance, the freshman is optimistic about his ability to seize a potential opportunity, especially given the test he faces every day from a veteran defensive line.
"It's gonna be really beneficial, when you're going against guys like Kapron [Lewis-Moore] and Stephon Tuitt, just blocking them play after play, you're gonna get better," Stanley said. "So you just gotta go out there, go hard and go 100 percent, and you're gonna get better."