Dillan Gibbons made the most of his blank slate at FSU

Dillan Gibbons made the most of his blank slate at FSU

TALLAHASSEE – Dillan Gibbons broke the rock after from the state of florida 49-17 win over Louisiana last Saturday, representing the entire offensive line when he raised the sledgehammer and smashed what was a perfectly intact chunk of granite.

It was a fitting end to their penultimate game inside Doak Campbell Stadium. That rock embodied what he saw at FSU when he first arrived about two years ago.

“I had kind of a blank slate,” Gibbons said. “I realized the opportunity, I went in, I couldn’t just go in and say ‘this is how we’re going to do it.’ First I had to go in and prove myself on the soccer field. But once I got to that leadership position, I was able to help some people in other aspects of life. It’s been amazing.”

The St. Petersburg native came to FSU as a transfer from notre Lady two seasons ago after several years as a rotating part with the Fighting Irish. His chance to take a starting job after working among one of the best lines in the country didn’t go as planned, so he needed an opportunity and FSU needed someone like Gibbons.

And for two seasons, Gibbons has largely been the stabilizer for a previously beleaguered offensive line.

“You say break the rock, well he’s been a rock for us, man,” the offensive coordinator and line coach said. alex atkins. “He got to a situation that wasn’t ideal, he came in and helped us with a lot of cultural pieces off the field, you see what he’s done with his community service. Just a complete mindset that you want in your bedroom, and he’s been able to guide those young guys and it’s been amazing to have him.”

The last part of Atkins’ comments stands out. FSU fans know all too well what the offensive line looked like in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Best of all, it was a hodgepodge that had to be planned. At worst, it was one of the lowest rated position groups in the country.

Playing with young players before their time, injuries and scheme changes were factors that influenced those problems.

Fast forward to today, and FSU has rushed for 200 yards in six straight games with three straight weeks of ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors in that span, with Gibbons earning that award one of those weeks.

The left guard has been a solid piece on the line, paving the way as a strong run blocker while providing stability along the inside of the pocket on passes. Gibbons hasn’t given up a sack in his two seasons as a starter.

But Gibbons’ presence transcends his own work.

As Atkins noted, it’s been that stabilizing force, that constant for a line that has fielded many inexperienced players in the two years Gibbons has been in Tallahassee.

“DG, Dillan Gibbons, it means a lot to me,” said Robert Scott, a true junior who has been Gibbons’ running mate on the left side of the line for the past two seasons. “He came here and he could have been selfish and only concerned with himself, but he was trying to build unity. The fist bump we do after every play, that came from him. He chooses what time we have to meet, he tells us what time we have to be in the building. I appreciate it because a lot of people wouldn’t have done those things sometimes, but the way he does it and the way he moves around here, I have nothing but respect for him.”

The fist bump is something Gibbons brought with him from Notre Dame, but he has put his own spin on it. Before every play, even in practice, the five linemen will hit their brothers next to them as a show of unity.

“And they don’t buy it unless they buy the person who brings it in,” Atkins said. “…The symbolism is that you are not here alone. Whatever happens, keep going and let’s play together.”

When the FSU line takes the field before every practice, it’s two players at a time in a row other than Gibbons. He is in the front. Every week, Gibbons hosts a pizza party for the line.

And he says he’s also raised $450,000 for the Big Man Big Heart nonprofit that he started on Name, Image, Likeness’ initial debut.

So as the senior runs out of the tunnel at Doak for the last time on Friday night against rival Florida, it’s safe to say Gibbons made the most of that blank slate when he arrived at FSU.

“It doesn’t feel like the end of a period in my career. It feels like a start,” Gibbons said. “A great opportunity to go out and have fun playing soccer with a group of guys. We don’t have many opportunities left. I’m going to take everything we have and give this team everything I have as I head to the NFL after this season.”

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