Elite defensive back Houston Griffith became the newest Notre Dame commit of the 2018 cycle when he announced for the Irish today. The 6’1″, 192-pound IMG prospect recently hosted Todd Lyght, decommitted from Florida State, hosted Brian Kelly and Mike Elko last week, and hosted Lyght again the other day. While Griffith hasn’t trekked to South Bend since September, he’s a Chicago native and has been to campus many times over the last couple of years. He knows all he could know about Notre Dame at this point. Of note, Griffith has said in the past that he intends to sign early and he will be an early enrollee.
While he’s rated as a safety by Rivals and many Irish fans have pegged him there as well, we’ve heard from football people we trust that he has the ability to play corner at an elite level in college. He’ll get his shot there first and our money says he’ll stick. Griffith joins upside corner prospects Joe Wilkins and Tariq Bracy, elite strong safety prospect Derrik Allen, and local breakout star Paul Moala in the 2018 defensive back class. Stay tuned, Irish fans, because even with all those guys in the fold the staff probably isn’t quite done with the secondary.
Recruiting Service Rankings
247 Composite — 4 star (.9666), #60 overall, #9 CB, #12 in FL
247 Sports — 4 star (93 rating), #133 overall, #14 CB, #20 in FL
Rivals — 4 star (6.0 rating), #47 overall, #6 S, #12 in FL
ESPN — 4 star (84 rating), #84 overall, #10 CB, #20 in FL
Note: You may notice that Griffith’s Scout ranking is conspicuously absent. 247 and Scout merged a few months ago; they kept some things separate for a while, but just in the last couple of weeks they phased out the Scout rankings.
How much time do you have? In addition to Notre Dame and Florida State, Houston Griffith holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin, among many, many others. So pretty much everyone.
Man, I tell you what, there’s not a lot to complain about, and this is Griffith’s junior film. It’s the most recent available on Hudl, which shows some confidence on his part. Smooth, smooth, smooth. If I could pick one word to describe Griffith as a football player, that would be it. His backpedal is really good, and he transitions effortlessly into coverage. He has elite speed and doesn’t even look like he’s trying when he turns it on; he runs so easily with the receiver that it’s no big thing for him to – hold your breath, Irish fans – turn and look for the ball. When he recognizes short stuff unfolding in front of him, his close is scary fast. He uses his length very well to disrupt the basket and to compete for jump balls. He likes to mix it up too, filling credibly in the run game and laying some wood on receivers.
If I had to pick out an area for improvement, it’s that he occasionally gets stymied on his attempts to jam the receiver. While most of his camp work was exceptional, particularly at the Opening finals, this showed on occasion during the summer as well. I think he might need some work on positioning too as guys were sometimes able to get an inside release in press coverage. That’s really nitpicky and easy to fix, though, if he hasn’t fixed it already during his senior season. And, it’s worth noting, he also wins more jams than he loses, so it’s not like he has an issue with physicality. This kid is the total package.
Houston Griffith has the look of a Day One contributor, and not just on special teams. I don’t think he’ll start immediately but I do think he’ll be in the corner rotation right away, especially since he’ll enroll early. He has a combination of physical tools and polish that just doesn’t exist on the Irish roster today, which makes me think it’ll be impossible to keep him off the field. He’s more athletically gifted than Nick Watkins and Julian Love, and he’s far more polished at this point than Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride were. Shaun Crawford might have had the same level of polish with some elite physical traits, but Griffith is four inches taller.
However the secondary falls out in 2018, Griffith will be a part of it, and he’ll have a great shot at a starting role when Nick Watkins moves on after the season. Welcome to the Irish family, Houston!