Four-star DB Houston Griffith commits to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Defensive back recruiting can no longer be considered dire for Notre Dame.

The Irish have addressed needs in the secondary with four commitments in the last two months. The latest came Tuesday when four-star recruit Houston Griffith announced his pledge to Notre Dame on Twitter.

C O M M I T T E D

South Bend Here I Come

4for40

Go Irish☘️ pic.twitter.com/RS5EYYvpCn

— Houston Griffith (@___HG3) December 13, 2017

"After thinking it over with my family and having conversations with the coaches, them visiting me over the last few weeks, I just felt like that was the best place for me,” Griffith said Tuesday night.

The 6-foot, 194-pound senior at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy picked Notre Dame less than two weeks after ditching his verbal commitment to Florida State. The Irish quickly became a favorite with defensive backs coach Todd Lyght making Griffith a priority.

Lyght visited Griffith during the first week of the recruiting contact period and returned to IMG Academy on Monday. Last week, head coach Brian Kelly, recruiting coordinator Mike Elko and running backs coach Autry Denson visited Griffith on his 18th birthday.

“He's done everything I want to do with my life,” Griffith said of Lyght, a former All-American at Notre Dame, national champion, top five NFL Draft pick, Super Bowl champion and NFL All-Pro.

The push in recent weeks resulted in Notre Dame landing one of the top defensive backs in the country.

Rivals ranks Griffith as the No. 3 safety and No. 35 overall in the 2018 class. No Irish commit is ranked higher than Griffith by Rivals. 247Sports slates him as the No. 14 cornerback and No. 142 overall.

“He’s very solid in man-to-man defense,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He can play corner or safety. He plays with a lot of confidence, and he practices against some of the great athletes in the country down at IMG. He’s a real big-time catch.”

Cornerback and safety could both be options for Griffith at Notre Dame depending on where he’s needed, but it may be hard not lining him up at safety. Notre Dame has been talent-starved at the position in recent years and no Irish safety recorded an interception during the 2017 regular season.

Highly coveted talent is on the way in 2018 with Griffith and four-star commit Derrik Allen. The latter is ranked by Rivals as the No. 7 safety and No. 66 overall in the class. 247Sports slates Allen as the No. 10 safety and No. 134 overall.

Griffith said he doesn’t have a position preference. He just wants to be a part of Elko’s defense.

“Aggressive, physical and fast. That’s what I'm so excited about playing in that defense,” Griffith said.

Griffith has long been a Notre Dame recruiting target. While a sophomore at Chicago Mount Carmel, the Irish extended him a scholarship offer in March 2016. Griffith transferred to IMG Academy later that year, but he continued to return to South Bend for recruiting visits. His last trip came in September to see Notre Dame host Georgia.

“I knew what I was going to be getting myself into being around the program and visiting a lot,” Griffith said. “I knew a lot about the program. Getting to know coach Lyght over these past few years has really helped. He's probably the coach I have the best relationship with out of the whole process."

Griffith’s family still lives in Chicago. His father is former Illinois running back and NFL fullback Howard Griffith.

When Florida State’s season started its downward turn and rumors started to circulate about head coach Jimbo Fisher leaving the program, Griffith knew he had Notre Dame as an option.

"Notre Dame was always constantly in communication with me even when I committed,” he said.

Prior to adding Griffith, Notre Dame’s recent run of secondary commitments included safety Paul Moala and cornerbacks Joe Wilkins Jr. and Tariq Bracy. 247Sports rates Moala and Wilkins as three-star recruits and Bracy, who committed to the Irish on Sunday, as a four-star recruit. Rivals rates Moala as a two-star recruit and Wilkins and Bracy as three-star recruits.

Notre Dame has continued to pursue cornerback Kyler Gordon, who visited the Irish last weekend, Maryland cornerback commit Noah Boykin and defensive back Julius Irvin. All three are rated as four-star recruits.

December has been a busy month for Notre Dame with Griffith and Bracy joining and running back Markese Stepp and wide receiver Geordon Porter leaving the Irish class. The class of 19 commitments ranks No. 6 nationally according to Rivals and No. 7 by 247Sports.

The Irish won’t have to wait long to see Griffith on campus. He will attend his final high school classes this week, sign with the Irish on Dec. 20 and become a Notre Dame student next month.

“It really means a lot to me that the process is over,” Griffith said. “Now I can just finish high school and prepare to enroll in January.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

 Below are highlights of Griffith's junior season via Hudl.

#WeAreND

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) December 13, 2017

Good day for the #Dboyz ☘️ pic.twitter.com/TAnb1iUfMZ

— Aaryn Kearney - AK (@aarynkearney) December 13, 2017

Four-star defensive back Houston Griffith made an official visit to Notre Dame for its game against Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)