Joe DeForest has been recruiting Houston for more than two decades. He knows the programs. He knows the coaches. He knows the prospects.
But he knows the lay of that fertile recruiting land will change if Texas A&M goes to the SEC.
“It's going to let the SEC into Texas more,” the Oklahoma State assistant coach said. “You're just going to have more teams in there recruiting and fighting for the same players.
“It'll be interesting.”
Not just for DeForest and the Cowboys, but for every team in the Big 12 that likes to recruit Lone Star State talent.
While the Aggies leaving for the SEC would have numerous ramifications for the Big 12, the impact that move would have on recruiting is among the biggest. The league that has produced the past five national champions will suddenly have a foothold in the state of Texas.
This isn't to say that SEC have never recruited Texas before.
Jarrett Lee, the LSU quarterback who might be the starter if Jordan Jefferson's bar-fighting ways are serious, is from Brenham. Knile Davis, the Arkansas running back who was expected to carry the load before busting his left ankle this preseason, is from Missouri City.
“They're not blanketing like we do or any of the Big 12 schools are,” DeForest said of the SEC recruiting Texas.
Should Texas A&M eventually join the SEC, expect that to change.
Texas A&M would likely be in the Western Division with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi and Mississippi State. That means those teams would be able to go into the Lone Star State and tell a recruit that they'd get to come back to their home state to play every other year. That sort of thing holds sway with recruits, especially when their families can't afford to travel very far for games.
Obviously if a player is being recruited by a Big 12 school, that's a card that those teams could play, too, but if a recruit is leaning toward the SEC, that come-back-home-to-play carrot could be the thing that ultimately sways him.
But it might not just be the SEC teams in A&M's division that try to take advantage of the new recruiting area.
“Now if there's a great player in Houston,” DeForest said, “you might see a Florida or a Georgia come over there and try to get 'em.”
And why wouldn't they? Texas is one of the most fruitful recruiting areas in the country. Just look at the number of Big 12 schools that build their programs on the backs of Texans.
Texas has only nine players from outside the state, while Baylor has just a dozen. Even though Texas Tech has more than those two schools combined — the Red Raiders have 25 out-of-state players — don't be fooled. That still means that more than three-quarters of their roster is comprised of in-state players.
And, of course, the schools south of the Red River aren't the only ones drawing from the state's recruiting well. Oklahoma has 60 players from Texas, OSU 66.
Heck, even Iowa State has 22 Texans on its roster.
If the Cyclones can go into Texas and recruit, who's to think the likes of Mississippi or Mississippi State or any other SEC team trying to upgrade its talent can't go in there and have success?
Adding to the intrigue is the SEC's reputation in recruiting.
Recent days have reminded us that NCAA rules are being violated everywhere. Miami. Boise State. Ohio State. Oregon. All have ongoing scandals. Still, the SEC is the epicenter of the recruiting racket.
A year ago today, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida were dealing with agents run amok; LSU had an ongoing NCAA investigation; and Tennessee was wondering what might come in the wake of Lane Kiffin. And that was before any of the Cam Newton saga involving Auburn and Mississippi State came to light.
Dirty South, indeed.
But you have to wonder — if SEC teams bring any dirty tactics to the recruiting scene in Texas, would Big 12 teams be more likely to turn them in? It's one thing to recruit almost exclusively in SEC country. It's quite another to try and stick your hands into another conference's recruiting honey pot.
There's no doubt that an A&M-to-the-SEC move would have an impact on recruiting in the Big 12.
The only question is just how significant it would be.