Notebook: Notre Dame DB Houston Griffith plans to enter transfer portal

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Houston Griffith’s future at Notre Dame became a bit murky when he didn’t secure the starting spot at strong safety in September.

Instead, Griffith, a junior, was beat out by sixth-year senior Shaun Crawford, who played cornerback his entire career. Now Griffith’s future will likely play out elsewhere.

On Monday, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports broke the news that the 6-foot, 204-pound Griffith will enter his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal. A source confirmed the report with the Tribune.

The Houston Griffith who Rivals ranked as the No. 43 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class never materialized at Notre Dame despite early opportunities.

Griffith played in 11 games and started one as a freshman in 2018 with his primary role coming as a nickelback. He totaled 14 tackles and two pass breakups in his debut season.

Griffith began his sophomore season as a cornerback but moved to safety in the middle of the season with a pretty clear path to a starting role as a junior at safety. As a sophomore, Griffith played primarily on special teams in all 13 games and recorded five tackles and one pass breakup.

Then the 5-9, 180-pound Crawford cut ahead of Griffith at strong safety this past season. Griffith started two games — against South Florida when starter Kyle Hamilton was injured and against Florida State when Crawford was needed to play cornerback — and played in all 12. He recorded 14 tackles and one tackle for a loss.

By the end of the season, the Irish were relying on fellow junior safety DJ Brown as the third safety in third-down packages more than Griffith.

Entering the transfer portal does not require Griffith or any athlete to eventually transfer, but it will allow him to be recruited by other schools. Notre Dame would not be required to keep Griffith on scholarship if he withdrew his name from the transfer portal.

Griffith, a product of Chicago, finished his high school career at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and was once committed to Florida State as a recruit. 247Sports slated him as a four-star prospect and the No. 14 cornerback in the 2018 class.

Ogundeji out

Adetokunbo Ogundeji’s commitment in November to play in the Senior Bowl all but confirmed his plan to end his Notre Dame career with the 2020 season. The Irish defensive end signaled his farewell once more Monday by joining Twitter (@ogundeji_ade) and sharing a list of thank yous.

“Playing football and earning my degree from Notre Dame has been an experience I will never forget,” Ogundeji shared in a graphic on Twitter. “First, I would like to say thank you to my professors for challenging me and encouraging me along the way to graduating. Next, I would like to express my gratitude to my coaches and the entire staff. They pushed me every single day until I was no longer ‘the skinny kid from Michigan.’

“I want to shoutout my teammates. We have built a true brotherhood, and I am grateful for the impact you have had and will have on my life. Most importantly, I want to thank God for all the blessings he has given me and for what is yet to come.”

The Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala., will be the next NFL audition for the 6-4, 268-pound Ogundeji and six other Notre Dame teammates — defensive end Daelin Hayes, offensive linemen Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hainsey and Aaron Banks, quarterback Ian Book and wide receiver Ben Skowronek.

Banks was added to the Senior Bowl roster Monday following his NFL declaration Sunday.

Wright to the NFL

Tight end Brock Wright didn’t fill the stat sheet during his Notre Dame career, but he doesn’t plan to add one more year to his Irish résumé. Wright told the Tribune on Monday that he plans to pursue an NFL career next season.

The 6-5, 255-pound Wright started eight games this past season and played in all 12. He caught three passes for 21 yards to bring his career totals to seven receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown.

Wright, a product of Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair, found his niche as a blocking tight end in Notre Dame’s offense and played in 48 games throughout his career.

Rivals ranked Wright as the country’s top tight end and No. 44 overall in the 2017 class when he signed with Notre Dame. 247Sports slated him as the No. 6 tight end and No. 189 overall. Both rated Wright a four-star recruit.

Extra points

• The Notre Dame football program released its weekly COVID-19 testing results for the final time in connection with the 2020 season.

No football players tested positive for COVID-19 during the rounds of testing that occurred between Monday of last week and Sunday of this week. As of this Monday, Notre Dame had no players in isolation or quarantine.

The Irish finished the season with 53 positive tests from players spanning back to the beginning of testing on June 18. Only four of those positive tests came after Nov. 3.

• Nose guard Kurt Hinish made his return to Notre Dame for a fifth season official Monday with a comical video on social media. Hinish’s face was edited onto a clip from “The Wolf of Wall Street” in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character gives a speech about not leaving.

The Tribune reported Hinish’s return on Saturday.

Hinish is taking advantage of the NCAA’s extra eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hinish has already used four seasons of eligibility but will be allowed to use a fifth. He started all 12 games in 2020 and tallied 19 tackles, which included 7.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks.

Notre Dame safety Houston Griffith, right, plans to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal. Pictured, Griffith exchanges words with North Carolina’s Dyami Brown.
Notre Dame tight end Brock Wright opted to pursue an NFL career after four seasons with the Irish.