As the football fans reading this will know, Tony Livingston is a 6’6”, 230 pound tight end committed to Billy Napier and the Florida Gators football program.
However, if you ask him, that statement wouldn’t tell the whole story.
Livingston might dominate on the gridiron, but he is just as passionate, if not more, on the hardwood. He has made it known that he is determined to walk on to Todd Golden’s basketball team and showcase the talent and athleticism he demonstrates on the court.
If you have any question about Livingston’s passion for basketball I would recommend going to his Twitter account. His bio indicated that he’s a tight end at the University of Florida, but other than that…it looks like a basketball account. His most recent ten or so posts are related to basketball, including him posting his own highlight packages in the format of recruiting tape. You have to scroll for quite a while to find his most recent post about football, a retweet of the Florida football account who posted an image of him in full jersey and pads.
So, it’s clear the man is passionate about hoops. However, it’s not just passion–Livingston has legit game.
I mentioned that his Twitter was loaded with his own highlights, so why don’t I share a few of them.
Tony Livingston put the debate to bed tonight! Here are 41 reasons why he's the Hillsborough County Player of the Year!#jamanjifilms #hillsboroughcountyhoops @1tonylivingston @tonylivingston_ pic.twitter.com/VrXIyBTpk1
— Coach Joe Philon (@coachjoephilon) February 18, 2022
— Coach Joe Philon (@coachjoephilon) February 12, 2022
Oftentimes when you see the basketball highlights from a football player it looks, well…like a football player playing basketball. There is athleticism, size, and physicality, but often you can tell that they lack some of the touch and fundamentals of someone dedicated to basketball. With Livingston you definitely get the athleticism, size, and physicality, but he has some of the skills of a player who has committed to getting better at basketball for some time.
In his highlights you’ll see some explosive finishes but you can also see his intensity and dedication to the defensive end, and that’s where he was arguably the most impactful during his high school career–though I’m careful not to short change his offensive abilities as he finished the last couple weeks of his high school season averaging nearly 25 point per game.
Players playing both football and basketball used to be a little bit more common but it’s very rare now and you could attribute it to a number of things. First of all, specializing is more common than ever and you don’t see a lot of players, particularly at the highest levels, playing more than one sport.
People are also more aware of health and safety now than ever, and the grind of taking off football pads after a tough practice working on blocking schemes and sprinting over to the basketball practice facility to work on transition defense is something that would likely be frowned upon by sports science individuals looking at proper rest and protecting a player’s body.
Two of the most famous examples of football players also playing basketball are players that, from a body composition standpoint, are very similar to Livingston. Jimmy Graham played both sports at Miami and averaged a career 4 points and 4 rebounds per game, and Julius Peppers averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds while playing both sports at North Carolina. Of course, both went on to tremendous NFL careers.
Both, like Livingston, were tight ends which seems to be the model for the few players capable of playing both football and basketball. The most recent example (at least that I can think of) in the SEC was a player named Evan Hinson at South Carolina who played both sports for the Gamecocks before ultimately transferring to Austin Peay.
Graham and Peppers are stellar examples of this working, but these were both transcendent athletes as we saw with the NFL careers they ended up having. The game has also changed a lot since these two played, and while they were built for the grit and grind game of the late 90’s and 2000’s, I’m not sure they would have had the same success playing in 2022.
Livingston might not be the transcendent athlete these two were, but he looks like he may have more basketball skill.
The other challenge for a two-sport athlete is the schedule. Ideally, you’d have a player like Livingston getting some run in low-leverage situations in Florida’s non-conference buy games to gain experience and adjust to the college game. However, due to when football runs, Livingston would be joining the basketball team at the start of SEC play where there aren’t many opportunities for him to get inconsequential minutes.
This is where the fit for a two-sport athlete becomes a bit difficult to see. However, if Livingston is as dedicated to basketball as he appears to be he will work his hardest to become a viable option if and when the Gators need him. Florida looks as deep as ever this season, especially at the three and four spots where Livingston would likely slide in, but injuries always happen and you never know when you could need another body. A dogged defender like Livingston would also bring value in practice, bringing the intensity and defensive quality that would make teammates better for playing against him.
Tony Livingston looks like he loves basketball and works hard, so he’ll be a fan favorite if he’s able to put on a basketball jersey after the football season finishes up.