Landen Livingston appears to have a pretty full plate.
Along with all of his athletic responsibilities and commitments and his other off-the-field activities, the 6-foot-5. 265-pound Leo High junior standout doesn’t seem to have much spare time for himself.
As it turns out, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Learning to balance sports, studying, and social life would be the biggest challenge with doing multiple sports, but I love being part of a team,” Livingston said. “Even though football is my favorite sport, I love playing on our Leo basketball team and seeing how many rebounds I can get. It also helps with my agility with my foot work and gives me great cardio.
“My dad is a huge advocate to do multiple sports because he thinks it helps with fewer injuries because you are using different parts of your body and it makes me a better all-around athlete. I also make sure I do things during the summer like church camps or retreats to meet new people and do something for myself as a person and not just athletics.”
Things have worked out very well so far for the talented two-way linemen on the gridiron as he helped guide the Lions (9-1) to a Northeast 8 Conference championship along with an opening round 14-7 win over Northridge in the Class 4A Sectional 19 playoffs.
In addition to being an anchor up front for an offense that is averaging points 28.5 per game, he has also chipped in 21 tackles and an interception on a defense surrendering 6.9 points per game and posted five shutouts.
“My family loves football and we have been involved with it since I was young,” explained Livingston. “My grandpa and my dad both played football in college, and we have had season tickets to the (Indianapolis) Colts my whole life. Playing it and just being around the game has helped me with my football IQ.
“My brother is great at preparing and would study plays and watch film over and over again. I think that just taught me to do the same things. We always would analyze, read about teams and debate about things offensively and defensively. I love watching film of myself and of competitors and see ways to get better or what I am doing wrong. I never look at things and think how well did I do, I look and see what I can do better. I also enjoy studying some of the top lineman in football just to learn.”
He has also proven to be a top-notch student in the classroom where he has compiled a 3.65 grade-point average.
“Our school is very high academically achieving and my dad often says he would love to see the average (GPA) for our football team,” Livingston said. “(Leo) Coach (Jared) Sauder stresses doing good on the field and off the field and that includes the classroom. I really just work hard on my grades. It doesn’t always come easy for me and my parents would say I am so slow in doing my school work. But, I like to compete against myself and my friends all the time and know I can always do better.”
For the last couple of years, Sauder has had no complaints with Livingston.
“Landen is an outstanding football player at both the offensive and defensive line positions,” Sauder said. ”On top of that, he is a very hard worker on and off the field and is a person of high character. He is a leader and a very coachable athlete who does everything in his power to help his team and the program succeed.”
Livingston believes there are many factors involved with his success.
“I appreciate Coach Sauder saying I am a good leader,” Livingston explained. “I try, but it is with guidance, and being given the opportunity to lead. A lot of times it can be just being friendly to other people and teammates. I always loved going against older people or better competitors because it made me a better player. I loved the challenge.
“I learned at a younger age that being a good leader is not just on the field, court or baseball field, it’s also being a leader off the field, making people feel included. You are only as good as the person next to you and when you are on a team, you can’t win by yourself. In our small town. I have been fortunate to play with the same kids since kindergarten, so these athletes and teammates are my friends. They are kids I go to youth group with, have bon fires with, and have group chats with.
“My parents have always wanted us to lead and not be led, and do things we want to do, even if it was not sports. I even did competitive dance until ninth grade and loved it. I went to all those dance competitions and I figured who doesn’t love a guy who can dance. But, that did start to get too much for me when I started playing school sports.
“My mom always says don’t just go to school be part of school, so I am in Students Sharing Hearts Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, and a youth group at our church, so it just not just sports.”
However, his brother Cameron, a freshman at Valparaiso University, has probably had the biggest influence on him.
“We have always been close and he would influence me by his example” Livingston said. “In fact, he had a talk with my sister and I before he left for college and told us to ‘listen to mom and dad because they know what they are doing. It is not always fun making the right choice, but you will be better in the long run by following the rules and doing your best.’
“He challenged me athletically too. He is a wide receiver, so he is obviously faster and has a different skill set, but he would take me during COVID every day and we would work out in a barn down the road (I live in the country) and we would follow his workout book from Valpo every day. I am not sure we missed one day and not sure he would of have allowed that.”
Like everyone else, COVID-19 has had its share of ups and downs for Landen.
“Obviously staying at home was different, but I tried to make the most of it,” Livingston explained. “I think working out every day was a huge help to my brother and I because it gave us an outlet every day. We also started to do a family workout with our entire family in the evening, and that was funny to see my sister and mom try to keep up with us. My brother and I would make up the workouts for everyone. The biggest challenge was probably getting mentally back into the social part of life once we could start doing things.
“While there was a lot of negative with COVID, we did get to spend a lot of time as a family. The day that everything got shut down, our basketball team made it to the regional tournament for the first time since 2002. Parents had brought the food and we were getting ready to leave school early. Then, we all got the call that it was cancelled. It was disappointing and I felt horrible for the seniors, but it makes you appreciate things a lot more as well.”
As far as his future plans, college programs like Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, West Virginia, and Arizona State would love to have his services starting in the fall of 2022.
“Wow, recruiting has been an amazing process so far,” Livingston said. “I have nine offers and appreciate each one of them. Each school is unique in what they offer, and every school is different in the way they approach me. I am extremely blessed to be in this situation and do not want to take anything for granted.
“Right now, I am speaking to multiple schools a week and just building relationships with them, outside of football. For me, that is important. I want to have a good working relationship with whatever college I pick and I want to be a contributor to the team and feel like I fit in. I also have told almost every school that this is a family decision for me. I will do what is best for us, but I value the opinion of my siblings and my parents. I know they will drive or fly to see me play, but I want a good fit for my college education as well.
“Someday football will end for me, like it does for everyone. Hopefully longer then shorter, but I want to have a good education and experiences behind me to help in me for the future.”
However, his main objective right now is getting ready for Friday’s home sectional semifinal contest with NorthWood (4-3).