One year changed Houston Griffith's perspective on Irish Invasion.
Griffith, a rising junior cornerback from Chicago, attended the biggest Notre Dame summer camp last year with plenty to prove. He returned last weekend to the latest edition of that event to observe and hang out in an environment that's become familiar.
Irish Invasion this time around meant Griffith could reconnect with coaches he knows and spend time with commitments that are already friends. All in all, it changed the vibe.
“It was different,” Griffith said. “I got a chance to talk with the players. I was really there with Isaiah (Robertson), so we were just talking and he was telling me why he liked Notre Dame so much when he made his decision.”
Robertson, a four-star safety in the Class of 2017, has been committed to the Irish for a couple months. He and Griffith are friends and teammates on the same 7-on-7 club team.
While Robertson served as a de facto guide, Griffith spent some time catching up with coaches.
Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght watched film with the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect and described what could be a future role. Head coach Brian Kelly touched base with Griffith a few times throughout the visit.
“I got to talk to coach Lyght,” Griffith said. “We watched film I think of the Texas game. He told me about the DBs and where he wants to play them. Then me and coach Kelly, he was just cracking jokes the whole time. It was a pretty good time with those guys.
Griffith has been observing Lyght since the spring on an unofficial visit that netted a scholarship offer. Lyght took center stage again during the camp portion of Irish Invasion as he coached the participating campers.
“He knows what he’s talking about,” Griffith said. “I’ve said it before. He’s played on the highest level. He’s coached for the Eagles and now he’s coaching college football. Now that he’s at Notre Dame he’s got players. He just knows what he’s talking about and is a great guy overall.”
There was also an unexpected part of the trip: Griffith got a front row seat as one of his peers made a commitment, four-star running back Markese Stepp.
Stepp offered a verbal pledge to Kelly before the event with Griffith nearby. Stepp revealed his decision to the public a day later. But Griffith couldn’t help but be excited at the time to see another prospect in the Class of 2018 make his decision.
Notre Dame now has two commitments in that class in Stepp and quarterback Phil Jurkovec.
“It was pretty exciting,” Griffith said. “It was pretty cool. I didn’t know he was gonna do it and he made the decision to commit to Notre Dame. He just told me. It was pretty exciting to see him become one of the new 2018 commits for Notre Dame.”
For his part, Griffith isn’t sure yet when he might be ready to make a decision.
Right now there are no more summer visits planned. Griffith will participate in the IMG 7-on-7 National Championship in Bradenton, Fla., later this week. Otherwise he’s looking to plan some game day visits in the fall as his schedule permits.
Griffith’s offer list continues to grow and now includes Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and Florida, among others.
“I’m still wide open,” Griffith said. “I probably won’t cut the list until later on. I’d say I’m pretty wide open to every school out there.”
But now with multiple visits to South Bend under his belt, Griffith does feel Notre Dame is likely to stay on the list for the long haul.
“I feel pretty comfortable with the program,” he said. “It’s probably gonna be one of the schools that’ll be part of my decision when it comes to that point for my commitment.”