Four-star CB Houston Griffith getting familiar with Notre Dame's defense

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Houston Griffith didn’t receive an invitation to The Opening Finals on Sunday, but the result didn’t hamper his confidence.

What did the four-star cornerback hope to prove at The Opening Regional in the Chicago area?

“That I’m one of the best players in the country,” Griffith said.

And did Griffith meet that standard?

“I believe I did,” he said.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound defensive back might know a thing or two about the best high school football players in the country. He transferred from Chicago’s Mount Carmel to athletic powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last summer.

“It’s a whole ‘nother world,” Griffith said. “I’m on my own, but then again I’m with players that are all on the same mission as me. The same goal. It means a lot that I’m down there with them. We’re all going through the same experience.

“We all were a big fish at the place we were at, and now we’re all just another guy. It’s a brotherhood down there. I really enjoyed being down there. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

It didn’t take Griffith long to understand the level of play required to succeed at his new school. Twenty-one IMG football players signed with FBS programs in the 2017 class. There is Division I talent quite literally all over the field.

“It was probably my first week there, my first practice, when I really figured out that Midwest ball is a little different when you bring everybody together in one spot,” Griffith said.

With spring football starting up at IMG this week, Griffith will put recruiting to the side. But he kept himself busy with visits during the offseason. Griffith visited Notre Dame in February and March. He also made trips to Ohio State, Florida State, Penn State and Illinois.

The next step in his recruitment may not come until the summer. Griffith said he wants to make sure he visits USC. Other than that, he’s hoping to make a decision before his senior season starts. If not, Griffith said he will release a list of finalists in the summer and make a decision in the fall.

On the surface, a summer decision might not be advantageous for Notre Dame. Griffith would be making a commitment before getting to see the new Irish defense led by coordinator Mike Elko in game action. But Griffith said he feels comfortable with what Elko is running. He learned a lot about the defense when he visited in March.

“That really kind of helped. (Elko) was able to show me the plays. He showed me the defense,” Griffith said. “It’s not too difficult, but if I do make the decision to go there, it would be a smooth transition especially with the defense we play at IMG.”

Griffith already had interest in the Irish before transferring to IMG. Now he’s at a program that has sent players to Notre Dame each of the last two recruiting cycles. He’s familiar with the players, coaches and the recruits tied to the Irish.

“I have a great relationship with (defensive backs) coach (Todd) Lyght,” Griffith said. “I know a lot of kids on the team, so they always tell me more things.”

And with each new commitment to Notre Dame comes another person trying to get in Griffith’s ear. In the coming months, he’ll likely decide if he wants to join them.

“They’re always reaching out to me," Griffith said. "I always looked at Notre Dame as a blue blood. They always have players coming in. The degree you can get from Notre Dame is really amazing.”

Four-star cornerback Houston Griffith, a 2018 recruit, visited Notre Dame in February and March. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)