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Hill signs with Ohio State as high school coach noticeably absent

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Photo by Gavin Lesnick North Little Rock’s K.J. Hill signed with Ohio State Wednesday.

North Little Rock standout receiver K.J. Hill signed with Ohio State University Wednesday without his high school coach, Brad Bolding, present. Rumors have swirled about Bolding’s job status for weeks, and his absence at the school’s signing day event was telling.
While North Little Rock School officials are mum on Bolding’s stratus, Hill and his stepfather Montez Peterson made it clear any alleged wrongdoing by Bolding didn’t include the recruitment of Hill contrary to rumors that have circulated on social media.
“They swear [Bolding] gave me money, but I didn’t get any money,” Hill told a throng of reporters shortly after he inked with the defending national champion Buckeyes. “That’s what they say. “People say he gave me money … I don’t know what the real situation is,” Hill says. “It’s all good, though.
“I’m not worried. People swore I couldn’t sign, but it is all good.”
North Little Rock’s silence and Hill’s decommitment from Arkansas last month has only fueled speculation that Hill’s recruitment is tied to Bolding’s troubles.
“Everything that we have done as parents and K.J. has done have been on the up … Read more >

Lots of smoked meat and a nostalgic gyro

After a big cheeseburger and loaded pizza on Wednesday, I  didn’t even think about food until around 6 p.m. Thursday.

As I mentioned in this space, we planned a trip to the iconic Ames smoked meat joint, Hickory Park. We arrived about two hours before the Iowa State versus Arkansas game, and the lobby was packed.

However, Hickory Park is equipped for large crowds with a huge dining area and an army of staff. We only waited on a table for about 15 minutes. In about another 20 minutes, I had a plate of smoked half-chicken and four ribs.

While Arkansas has Iowa beat withimage a variety of sauces, Iowa smoked meat is pretty darn good. The chicken was meaty, smoky and flavorful. The ribs were prefect, too. It was way too much meat, but since I don’t know when I will return, I ate most of  the ribs and chicken with some beans and sweet potato fries for good measure.

I wouldn’t have needed anything else to eat, but Justin Acri went for a taste of nostalgia, and I joined him after we hung out in campus town after the game. As an ISU student, Acri was a regular … Read more >

Haydar’s Legacy: Role Model Who Lived Dream

Kikko Haydar was milling around the University of Arkansas basketball offices on a summer day when he was approached with a favor. An Arkansas alum, who worked on the Arkansas Traveler sports staff when he was a student, was in town and wanted to visit with UA coach Mike Anderson, who he covered when the coach was an assistant in the late 80s.
Upon entering Anderson’s office reception area, he bumped into Haydar. He asked the Razorbacks guard if he would surprise his 14-year-0ld daughter and 12-year-old son who were looking around the Bud Walton museum.
Haydar asked the kids’ names and  agreed to visit with them.
When the father left Anderson’s office after a brief conversation, Haydar was still talking to the kids. The daughter was on campus for a softball camp — both kids claimed the former walk-on as their favorite player. They were surprised by the goodwill gesture.
When asked about

Photo by Samantha Baker/NWA Media Kikko Haydar has volunteered with children during his time as an Arkansas basketball player.

Photo by Samantha Baker/NWA Media
Kikko Haydar has volunteered with children during his time as an Arkansas basketball player.

the encounter a couple of months later while being interviewed for an Arkansas Life article, Haydar flashed a huge smile.
“The kids are important to me. I … Read more >

UCA Can Thank Conque for Historic Rise

I hope someone at the University of Central Arkansas sent Clint Conque a thank you note. The program owes its all-time winningest coach greatly after he announced Saturday he’s leaving for the same position at Southland Conference rival Stephen F. Austin.
In 14 years he transformed a hapless program into winners — not only at the NCAA Division II level, which is hard enough, but Conque also guided the Bears through a transition to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) status in 2006..
UCA advanced to the FCS Playoffs in 2011 and 2012 and had a good chance this season if it hadn’t been for a nasty injury bug.
ConqClint Conqueue made the move look so easy, I’m not sure UCA administrators and fans realized how tough that really can be. As good as the Gulf South Conference is, the Southland is one of the better FCS conferences. There are some traditionally rich programs in that league, and to make the jump into that fray and knock heads with the best and move to the upper echelon instantly  is unheard of. Not many smaller schools enjoy overnight success moving up. In fact, some never make an impact.
The Louisiana native … Read more >

Lashlee Humbled by Quick Rise, Broyles Award Experience

Rhett Lashlee had dreams of becoming a star quarterback like his boyhood idol — San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana. That didn’t pan out but real life has been pretty good.
On Tuesday, Lashlee was honored in Little Rock at the Broyles Award banquet as one of the top college football assistant coaches. In a few weeks the Springdale native leads Auburn’s offense in the BCS National Championship Game. The rise has been rapid. In 2009 Lashlee wasn’t even coaching football, he was running VYPE High School Sports magazine in Northwest Arkansas. A few years later the 30-year-old former Shiloh Christian High School star quarterback has played a vital role in turning a dreadful Tigers team into contenders.

Photo by Bobby Ampezan/ADG Rhett Lashlee and his wife, Lauren, have enjoyed an amazing ride that included being a Broyles Award finalist.

Photo by Bobby Ampezan/ADG
Rhett Lashlee and his wife, Lauren, have enjoyed an amazing ride that included being a Broyles Award finalist.

“I just got an opportunity and have a lot of people to thank,” the Auburn offensive coordinator says. “I have to thank coach [Gus] Malzahn for giving me the opportunity, obviously, and even Gene Chizik [former Auburn coach] and Houston Nutt [former Arkansas coach] gave me opportunities to work on their staffs. There’s a lot of great coaches that can … Read more >