Countdown to kickoff: Houston ties

Welcome to Houston, LSU.

Ok, that's a bit dramatic. Anyone who has been paying attention to LSU football during its run of dominance this past decade knows that Houston has been a big factor in that success.

Brandon Lafell, Michael Brockers, Terrence Toliver, Danny McCray, Jarrett Lee -- all are LSU alums in the NFL, and all came from Houston or its outlying area. This year, starting safety Craig Loston and slot receiver Russell Shepard hail from Houston. Seventeen Texas-based players are on the Tigers' roster going into fall camp, and eight of them come from the Houston area.

For the future, LSU has landed a commitment from 2014 cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor).

It's safe to say LSU is familiar with what Houston, located just five hours west of Baton Rouge, has to offer.

But there's no denying the change in dynamic now that Houston has become part of SEC country. The nation's fourth-largest city is located about an hour and a half southeast of Texas A&M, making it prime Aggie territory.

Again, nothing about this should be surprising. LSU and A&M have been duking it out on the east Texas recruiting trail for some time now. The difference is, Texas A&M and first year coach Kevin Sumlin are now on an equal playing field. The talent, publicity and prestige of playing in the SEC used to be an advantage toward the Tigers' recruiting pitch, while Texas A&M played second fiddle to Texas in the less-prominent Big XII. But that argument doesn't hold much water anymore.

The Aggies influence on the border of Louisiana can already be seen. Texas A&M currently features eight Louisiana prospects on its 2012 roster, ranging from Shreveport to New Orleans. Of course, one could make the argument that those recruits weren't even on LSU's radar, but it looks like that's going to be harder to prove under Sumlin. The new A&M head man has four Louisiana commits in his 2013 class, and at least a couple -- Noel Ellis (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) and Darian Claiborne (Port Allen, La./Port Allen) -- have gotten long looks from the Tigers, although no offers.

And those battle lines are nothing new. The Aggies were a player for LSU commit DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) before his eventual decision for LSU, and 2012 LSU signee Corey Thompson (Missouri City, Texas/Lawrence E. Elkins) was originally an A&M commit.

With the talent at stake and the geographical proximity, this is only going to pick up as both schools begin making yearly trips into each other's territory for games. It's easy to see why school officials talk often about turning the LSU-Texas A&M series into a season-ending rivalry.

With both schools boasting huge alumni bases there, Houston promises to be the center of it all. It should be fun.