Behind Dillon Livecche sat members of the Tennessee Volunteers football team, their Division I size hardly masked by their suits. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, revered for his football acumen across the country, took the stage to address the crowd. So did Tennessee first-year coach Lane Kiffin, revered for his incendiary nature across the Southeastern Conference.
Before they took the sideline later that night in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Livecche attended part of the coaches luncheon as part of his reward for receiving a $1,000 scholarship by the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
Livecche was one of 35 finalists for the George Morris Scholar-Athlete Scholarship, awarded at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta on Dec. 30. Though he didn't win the overall prize, getting a $1,000 scholarship and being in the presence of renowned college football personalities was satisfying in itself.
"It was a fun experience," Livecche said. "It was a good environment.
It was cool to be in the same room as Division I players good enough to make it to the Chick-fil-A Bowl."
The 5-foot-10, 215-pound linebacker was part of a deep and experienced linebacking corps for the Wolfpack, who made the Class AAA state playoffs in just their second varsity season.
Woodland lost to defending state champ Cairo in the first round.
Livecche recorded 82 tackles and was named second-team All-Region 4-AAA and second team All-Southern Crescent. He was voted a team captain by Woodland's coaching staff and played middle linebacker, the linebacking position often considered to hold the most responsibility on the field.
But Livecche assumed as much responsibility off the field as he held on it. Livecche holds a high GPA and was heavily involved in community service activities with Woodland's football program.
He was also the Georgia male nominee for the Wendy's High School Heisman National Award Winner.
Livecche credits the Wolfpack coaching staff with emphasizing community involvement as part of their football experience.
"They helped us get involved in the community with community service activities and helped give us a better image, which obviously is a good thing," Livecche said.
"They just exmpahsized the brotherhood aspect of football, which is something I believe in," he said.
"Always doing activities together to make it feel like a family, which of course helped us on the football field."
Livecche's college football future is still unsettled.
He holds no official offers. But there is strong interest from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., a Division III program. Any future seems to lay to the north.
"I'm still keeping my options open," Livecche said.
"More than likely I'll probably leave the state and head up north. That's where most of my looks are coming from."