The opportunity of early playing time at Carolina was the major factor in Livingston's decision.
"They think he can step in and help them in the immediate future," Sarasota head coach Bob Perkins said.
In Livingston, the UNC coaching staff has seen the confidence and love-for-the-game-philosophy it has been seeking since John Bunting took over in December of 2000.
"Over the next couple of years, we're going to bring this program back and be contenders for the national championship," Livingston said.
Immediately following his senior season, it looked as though he was Mississippi's to lose. But Livingston felt he didn't fit in well in Oxford and began to look forward to scheduled trips to North Carolina and N.C. State.
His Jan 6 trip to Chapel Hill was quickly followed up by an in-home visit by new UNC defensive tackles' coach Brad Lawing the following week. Livingston then cancelled his visit to Raleigh and announced he would attend Carolina.
"It was just the place," Livingston said. "It had a real good football atmosphere. I met all of the recruits and we went out to a basketball game. We met a lot of the players and people that went to that school."
At 6-foot-2, and with a five-second reported time in the 40-yard dash, Livingston is "the perfect size that they're looking for," said Perkins.
After setting a school record with 12 sacks in 2001, Livingston wrapped up this year with nine sacks and 63 tackles.
"He's athletic and a big kid that can move," Perkins said. "He's got great feet for his size. Carrying 300 pounds, as he did throughout most of this season, and he still has that quickness.
"Off the field, he's got a love for the game," continued Perkins. "He's got a great personality and comes from a great family. He's the type of kid that is infectious with his smile. He's just an outstanding citizen.
"I guarantee that Coach [John] Bunting will tell you that right off the bat – he's a likable kid."
Livingston started out as a defensive lineman when he was a sophomore. But Perkins moved him to offensive line midway through his junior year, and Livingston played both ways throughout the rest of his high school career.
"Within weeks, he was one of our better offensive linemen," Perkins said. "But his true love is the defensive line. He loves to mix it up and get after people."
Although his skills suited him well as a blocker, Livingston would rather be stopping the run and rushing the passer. To his delight, the UNC coaches recruited him as a defensive lineman.
"I like defensive line better because, first of all, you don't get attacked by people," Livingston said. "You don't have a set job to do; you can kind of move, react and create a lot of things."
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow…