Independence Day, July 4, is a glorious day in America.
The birthday of our great country as a free nation brings parades, fireworks, family cookouts and more.
It is smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, but it is the day when football fever begins to heat up again all over the country and especially in the SEC where football is Saturday's religion.
While the passion for football never dies, it is limited pretty much to recruiting news for most of the year.
In the middle of July, SEC Football Media Days in Atlanta will provide a lot of football news for about two weeks. Then the teams report and David Bazzel will announce the speaker line-up for the Little Rock Touchdown Club.
While he's been working on this for months, he's the only one who knows who all the speakers will be. So when he holds his annual press conference at Simmons Bank, it will be standing-room only.
Of course, the first speaker will be Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Sam Pittman on Aug. 15 or 16.
The lineup of speakers will once again be first class and that's why membership is now open at lrtouchdown.com, which is the same site for making reservations for the weekly lunches.
For only the second time in the history of the LRTDC, which has more than 500 members, there has been a slight increase in dues. That information is available on the website, too.
Almost every speaker comments on the enthusiasm and energy in the LRTDC, and many call it the best touchdown club in America.
There will be no drop-off this year, even if Baz is the only one who will know the complete lineup until the first week of August.
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Apparently at the last minute, KJ Jefferson decided not to attend the Manning Passing Academy.
It seems he and some of his receivers are working on their own every night, and he didn't want to miss any of those workouts.
However, the state of Arkansas was still represented as Layne Hatcher, formerly of Arkansas State and now Texas State, was back for his second consecutive year as a counselor.
Hatcher is out of Pulaski Academy where he was 41-1 as a quarterback and led the Bruins to three state championships, passing for 15,483 yards and 185 touchdowns. He was a four-time state wrestling champion, too.
He started his career at Alabama before transferring to ASU, where he was Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year in 2019.
He started the last nine games of his freshman season with the Red Wolves, but he split playing time at quarterback the last two seasons.
He most likely will be the starter for the Bobcats who host the Red Wolves on Nov. 19.
At ASU, Hatcher completed 521-of-845 attempts for 7,427 yards and 65 touchdowns.
Texas State is coached by Jake Spavital, who was previously an offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.
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Lady Rocket, co-owned by Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, won Sunday's Grade III Chicago Stakes at Churchill Downs, going wire-to-wire in the 7-furlong sprint.
She won in 1:21.62, a career best at that distance.
The 5-year-old mare has a lot of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort history.
In addition to Fletcher running horses at Oaklawn, including Lady Rocket, she is trained by Brad Cox, an Oaklawn regular and ridden by Ricardo Santana, a leading jockey at Oaklawn.
Lady Rocket has raced 14 times and been in the money 12 times, including seven wins.
Fletcher, a veteran owner, has the name Rocket in all the horses he owns in honor of his dog.