Dillan Gibbons is a 22-year-old college football player who was born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL. As he grew up as the youngest of four children in his family (including his twin sister, Delanie,) he learned to love everything about the Florida lifestyle he was fortunate enough to be born into. Almost every family vacation his parents took them on revolved around the beach, the boat, and the water. Fishing became his passion and he remembers fondly sitting in a classroom thinking about fishing instead of the classwork he was supposed to be focused on – just biting at the bit to get home and cast a line.
Dillan’s first team sport was basketball, which he began playing with his twin sister Delanie at the age of 5. He also played baseball as a youngster, but he was not passionate about it as it took too much time away from fishing. Because of his size, he did not play contact football until he was in 9th grade. While in middle school, he played flag football, practiced with his brother’s varsity high school team, and assisted on the sidelines. As a freshman, rather than play on the JV team, he started on the varsity offensive line at St. Pete Catholic. He played strong-side guard next to his older brother, Reilly Gibbons, at tackle and they would both flip from left to right depending upon the defense and the play they were running. Dillan received his first Division I college scholarship offer from Ohio State when he was 14 years old and a freshman at St. Pete Catholic. He went on a recruiting tour with his parents in the Spring of his sophomore year and was offered while visiting the University of Notre Dame by legendary Offensive Line coach, Harry Heistand. Dillan was just 15 years old when he received that offer. Although it was quite early in his recruiting process, his Irish Catholic upbringing kicked in and he felt compelled to commit to the Irish. Within days of the offer, he did so and he never looked back. He graduated from Clearwater Central Catholic in 2017, after accumulating High School Football honors such as the Max Preps High School All American Football Player award, First Team All-State in 2015, 2016, and 2017 and Varsity Team Captain in 2015, 2016, and 2017. While in high school, Dillan volunteered for Suncoast Hospice making cupcakes for patients and delivering them to them on their birthdays and special occasions, and also served on the Circuit Court for Pinellas County’s Teen Court. There, he adjudicated sentences for teen offenders in a pre-trial diversion program.
While at Notre Dame, he played under Harry Heistand, won the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year Award, helped the Irish Offensive line win the Joe Moore Award in 2017, and helped the Irish go 12- 0 in 2018. In addition to his commitment to football, Dillan fought hard to succeed in the classroom and earned a degree in Management Consulting from the Mendoza College of Business. He also found time during semester breaks to intern two years in a row for Kinderhook Industries, a private equity firm in New York City, and Silver Screen Bottling while in undergrad at ND. He continued his love for community service at Notre Dame, participating in the Kelly Cares player shopping events during the holidays each year and volunteering at the Football 101 Women’s Clinics each summer.
Although he will always love the Irish and is immensely proud of his Notre Dame degree, his desire to obtain an MBA degree while playing his final two years of college football – hopefully being in consideration for the NFL draft – was the impetus behind his decision to transfer to Florida State. The warm weather and proximity to the Gulf for fishing had a little bit to do with it, as well. Dillan BET ON HIMSELF when he made the decision to transfer and that has paid off in spades. He fits in well with Florida State and has helped to create a STANDARD and comradery in the Offensive Line room and locker room. He has been so impressed with the leadership style and genuinely good nature of the coaching staff at FSU, especially Coach Norvell and Coach Atkins. Dillan started for the Seminoles at left guard for all games during the 2021 season and earned ACC Offensive Player of the Week and 2nd Team All ACC Team honors. He has been elected to the Leadership Counsel for the Florida State Seminoles and is doing everything that he can to assist the coaching staff in turning the team into a National Championship contender. He strives to help the team have a break-out season in 2022. He’s committed to making himself and inspiring his teammates to get 1% better every day.
Due to his charitable efforts to support Timothy Donovan, who suffers from a rare disease called VACTRL, Dillan was honored to be named an Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion in February at a ceremony held in Philadelphia. He has also been nominated by the NIL Summit Committee as an Athlete Advocate of the Year. That award will be conferred in Atlanta in June. Dillan recently did a 1-week internship with Amazon in their New York City office as an intern in their Treasury Technology and Risk Technology divisions.
In October 2021, while on a bye week back home in St. Petersburg behind the Don Cesar, Dillan proposed to his girlfriend Samantha – who is a trader for Goldman Sachs on Wall Street and graduated with him from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business with a degree in Finance in 2021. They will be married on July 15th, 2023 on the beach in the Hamptons.
As Notre Dame Offensive Lineman, Dillan Gibbons made the most difficult decision of his life to transfer from Notre Dame to Florida State University to play his remaining two years of college football while obtaining his MBA degree, he couldn’t help but think of how his decision would impact his friend Timothy Donovan. Dillan and Timothy became fast friends when they met after Dillan’s first football game as a Notre Dame player in the fall of 2017. As Dillan progressed through the years as a member of the Fighting Irish football team, he faced a great deal of adversity that held him back from achieving his dreams. He
fought through that adversity with the help of his friend, Timothy, who was going through so much more than Dillan.
Timothy was born with a condition called VACTRL and also suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome. Wheelchair-bound for his entire life and after having over 50 surgeries, Timothy made the brave decision to have a life-altering and very risky spine surgery last year. He had a titanium rod inserted into his spine from his cervical spine to the sacrum to help straighten a severe curvature that had developed over the years and was impeding his breathing. Timothy made it through the surgery and it turns out that it was the best decision he’s ever made. When Dillan told Timothy about his move to FSU, he and his family were very supportive of his decision and told him with exuberance that they would now be Noles fans and they would always be Dillan Gibbons fans! When he arrived on campus in Tallahassee in June of 2021, Dillan learned that the State of Florida passed a law allowing NCAA student-athletes to use their Name Image, and Likeness for profit for the first time ever. At that moment, Dillan began to implement his plan to use his NIL to help Timothy.
On July 1st, 2021, the very first day that NCAA student-athletes across the country were allowed to use their name, image, and likeness for profit, Dillan started a GoFundMe to help bring his friend, Timothy to Tallahassee to see his first game as a Florida State Seminole when he played against his former teammates at Notre Dame. As it turns out, Dillan was the first NCAA student-athlete to use his Name Image, and Likeness for a charitable purpose. With all of the hoopla over the new NIL developments, Dillan’s decision to use his NIL for good received a great deal of news coverage – the story was even covered in a Forbes article. With all that press, the GoFundMe that Dillan started to bring Timothy to Tallahassee – TakeTimothytoTally – met its initial fundraising goal of $30,000.00 within 23 hours. His success with TakeTimothytoTally inspired Gibbons to start his own Florida Non-profit corporation called Big Man Big Heart, Inc. with the goal of teaching other NCAA student-athletes the value of using their NIL for good and guiding them through the process of setting up a successful fundraising initiative through GoFundMe.
As CEO and founder of Big Man Big Heart, Inc., Dillan would like to recruit other NCAA athletes across the country to be Collegiate Ambassadors for his charitable organization. He plans to do this by sponsoring their initiatives and guiding them through planning and implementing their campaigns in their college and hometown communities, or even nationwide.
Fundraising for each of these initiatives will be through the GoFundMe platform. It will be promoted by the individual athlete spearheading the campaign and by all Big Man Big Heart Collegiate Ambassadors nationwide through social media.
Where Faith, Family & Football Came From
As a member of the FSU football team, Dillan was devastated to hear the news of beloved long-time FSU football coach Bobby Bowden’s passing. However, Bowden’s legacy and the fact that he lived his life with three guiding principles – faith, family, and football – is inspirational to Dillan because he was raised with the same virtues. Through his charitable efforts and hard work on the football field, Dillan hopes that he will honor the legend of Coach Bobby Bowden. As he enters the football facility each day and departs each evening, Coach Bowden’s statue serves as a reminder to Dillan that a positive attitude, commitment to service, and holding himself to his core values will help him influence others in a meaningful, inspirational way and become the man he hopes to be. His favorite Coach Bowden quote is, “If somebody mistreats you, treat ‘em good. That kills ‘em.”
On July 2nd, 2021, the brand SuperCoffee took note of how remarkable it was for Dillan to choose to “use his new platform to Add Something Positive to this world and Timothy’s life,” and donated $15,000 to the TakeTimothytoTally GoFundMe, bringing the total raised to over $30,000. SuperCoffee recently announced a partnership with Dillan Gibbons and Big Man Big Heart to continue supporting Dillan’s future charitable initiatives.