Matt Cashore /

Elko’s defense intrigues Griffith

Houston Griffith came away impressed by new defensive coordinator Mike Elko during a weekend visit. He also got some unique insight from Brian Kelly and a follow-up pitch from an “aggressive” Irish commit.

Houston Griffith continues to cover new ground with each Notre Dame visit.

Over the last couple years, Griffith has made the trip to Notre Dame on multiple occasions. But getting back to campus last weekend provided the four-star cornerback from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., a chance to brush up on some new aspects of the program.

Doing so starts with defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Griffith has been learning more about the system Elko plans to implement in South Bend.

“I like what coach Elko is bringing to the table with his defense,” Griffith said. “I like it a lot actually. It’s the way they’re going to attack offenses this season. With the athletes they have at Notre Dame, it should work pretty well this season.”

Elko and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght envision Griffith at either cornerback or safety. No matter the position, they see him on the field early. That message resonates.

“It means a lot,” said Griffith, who’s originally from Chicago. “It means they’re going to give freshmen an opportunity to showcase their talent. Playing early, that’s probably a priority of mine.”

Griffith made it back to campus for the first time since making a game day trip during the season. He visited for Irish Invasion over the summer and for spring practice last year as well.

Piling up the visits has given the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect an in-depth look at the program. It’s also given him a unique perspective as the Irish try to put a 4-8 season in the rearview mirror with an eye toward the future.

Griffith has taken note of how head coach Brian Kelly has approached this offseason.

“It just shows that this team is going in a new direction,” Griffith said. “He had to relieve some of his closest friends, he said. He said it was his fault. It really means a lot that he’s taking ownership over last season.”

Another thing Griffith has noticed? How Kelly is starting to stockpile talent in the Class of 2018. Notre Dame is up to 10 commitments with four coming last week. Four-star running back Markese Stepp, a longtime pledge, has been working to bring Griffith into the fold.

“I just see they’re trying to rebuild and get back on top with the top players in the country,” Griffith said. “Markese just texted me like an hour ago about me needing to join the class. He’s pretty aggressive.”

Griffith also made a visit to Illinois, where his father played, over the weekend. Right now the next group of scheduled visits will be alongside IMG Academy teammates as they tour programs in the South.

Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and South Carolina are among those expected to play host.

After the next round of visits, Griffith envisions the next big step in his recruitment happening.

“I’ll be cutting it down in the summer,” he said. Top Stories