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Notre Dame Football

Confidence Growing for Notre Dame S Houston Griffith

April 9, 2020

Houston Griffth might have finally found some consistency in his position as he's moved around the Notre Dame secondary over his first two seasons in South Bend. 

The 6-foot, 204-pounder came in as an early enrollee and played safety. When fall camp rolled around in 2018, Griffith took over in the nickel before splitting time with Nick Coleman at the end of the year. 

In 2019, Griffith moved to the boundary corner and then moved back to safety in the middle of the season. 

It might sound like a lot, but Griffith has learned valuable lessons that will help him in 2020 as he prepares to fight for a starting spot.

"My freshman year, I learned how to work from the older guys," Griffith told Irish Sports Daily. "To make plays out there, it's about the things you do in practice and your preparation allows you to make a lot of plays." 

The move to cornerback last year was needed and the Chicago native was confident in his abilities, so there was no hesitation to play a new position.

"I think I'm pretty versatile and they wouldn't have put me there if they didn't think I had the ability to play that position," said Griffith. "It wasn't a hard adjustment. It was about working the small techniques to make every play a great play."

The chance to play three different positions has put Griffith in a position where he knows the entire defense in year three. 

"It's helped me understand what everyone on the field is doing," explained Griffith. "The next step is to continue to be a great teammate, being a vocal leader and being a guy who can make the routine play each and every down. 

"I want to be a great and ultimate competitor and just play with a lot of swagger on the field." 

While Griffith didn't have a problem playing other positions, the move back to his natural position is only a positive. 

"I'm confident in the position," stated Griffith. "I spent a lot of time with Coach (Terry) Joseph and the older guys to understand how the defense works. I'm pretty comfortable with the position I'm in." 

There is no doubt this spring was important to Griffith, but also the Notre Dame secondary. 

Notre Dame needed to let its young cornerbacks get reps and also let transfer Isaiah Pryor learn the defense. 

The Irish got in one practice, but Griffith was impressed with Pryor's transition and looks forward to being on the same field with his former high school teammate.

"Zay has transitioned pretty well," Griffith said. "He's a hardworking guy and I always know what I'm getting out of him. I've known him since high school and he's always been the guy who works hard.

"He adds more value to our group and our secondary. He's going to ultimately make us better in the long run." 

IMG Academy (Fla.) had both players in the secondary a few years ago and Griffith quickly saw Pryor wasn't afraid to hit. 

"Zay is always hitting," said Griffith. "Any time we were on the field and it was third-down, you knew Zay was going to get in there and blitz. He's just a good guy and a great addition to our program."

The Irish secondary might not get on-field work this spring, but that hasn't stopped them from learning. Notre Dame has started Zoom meetings and has even started to install Clark Lea's defense. 

"I feel it's the same type of learning," explained Griffith. "A lot of us are visual learners, so they're just showing us how to make this play or fill that gap or drop back in coverage. It's not that hard." 

Notre Dame is also conducting online classes academically and Griffith has made a smooth transition there as well. 

"For me, it's not difficult because I took some online courses at IMG," Griffith said. "It's kind of normal and it's just a video camera now." 

The time at home has not only given Griffith the chance to do remote learning, but he's also dug into the film to take mental reps. 

"I've been able to watch a lot of film and that's really what it's come down to," Griffith explained. "I've stayed in the installs and making sure all the guys are locked in. I want to know everything mentally, so when we get out there, it just happens a little bit easier for us." 

Transitioning back to safety and helping bring others along might seem like a tough task, but Griffith has drawn on advice from his father, Howard, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos.  

"Just really hard work and be confident out there," Griffith said of his father's advice. "Everything is always going to happen for a reason because it's an investment. You can't just get everything you want right away. You have to work hard each day and then there will be a great prize in the end."

It's clear Griffith's confidence is growing, so it begs the question of who would win in the hole? Griffith or his father, who was a 6-foot-, 230-pounder fullback?

"Me," smiled Griffith. "Why would I say him?" 

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