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  1. Sports

Three linemen, three tall tales

Offensive linemen aren't created overnight. They tend to get their size from their parents, and their appetites just might break the bank … or a few restaurant record books.

Dillan Gibbons, Jr., Northside Christian

Height: 6-6Weight: 320

It was apparent even from the womb that Northside Christian offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons was going to be a big child. Gibbons and his twin sister fooled hospital personnel when their mom went in for an ultrasound.

"He actually thought that my mom was going to have triplets," Gibbons said. "It was just me and my sister, Delanie, but we must have looked like three babies. When we were born, we were both 9 pounds."

Gibbons said he was pretty average-sized until a couple of years ago. That's when he filled out to be 6-foot-6, 320 pounds. Over the summer, Gibbons, who is the younger brother of USF lineman Reilly Gibbons, committed to Notre Dame.

He also spent his spare time eating, winning an eating contest at Skyline Chili in Clearwater. Gibbons devoured 14 and a half Coney Island chili dogs in 14 minutes. That led to a trip to Cheeburger Cheeburger in Sarasota with his family.

"They have a 1-pound burger that few people can finish," Gibbons said. "The guy at the restaurant looked at me and doubted that I could finish one of them. I ate three of them."

And to top off the summer, Gibbons joined the Shula's Steak House 48-ounce club. And if you're wondering, yes, he has already scouted out several restaurants in South Bend, Ind.

Rodney Page, Times staff writer

Jamal Mention, Sr., Pasco

Height: 6-5Weight: 338

Jamal Mention has always been hefty. The Pasco left tackle weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces when he was born. In eighth grade, Mention was up to 242. Now a senior, he is starting his final season at 338.

Mention's size is genetic. His father, Thomas, weighed 285 pounds as a starting defensive end at Pasco in 1996. Mention gets his height from his mother, Nicole, who is 6-2.

"I've pretty much outgrown them all," Mention said.

In the trenches, Mention uses his large frame to send opponents in reverse, forcefully and repeatedly. But he initially loved hitting baseballs, not opposing defensive linemen. He started playing baseball when he was 5 but gave up the sport by the time he reached high school.

"I saw the kids playing baseball at Pasco and they were a little quicker and better than me," Mention said. "I figured football would probably be my best sport from then on."

Size is not the only prerequisite for becoming a great lineman. Mention, who has offers from Rutgers and South Alabama, said he was not even the biggest player on his team last season.

"We had a guy who was 6-8, 380 pounds," he said. "But he had never played before. He was more of a project. Really, he couldn't hurt a fly. In this game, you've got to be a little mean and have the confidence that you're going dominate the guy in front of you."

And you have to be nimble. Mention said he practices his footwork by jumping rope. "I jump rope all the time, you can ask my coaches," he said. "I even do it at home. It helps a lot."

Bob Putnam, Times staff writer

Jean Marcellus, Jr., Jefferson

Height: 6-5Weight: 290

On the way home from football practice, Jefferson offensive tackle Jean Marcellus often stops at Burger King first, a routine that's become a bit of a joke between the Division I recruit and Dragons coach Jeremy Earle.

"I actually do (have a big appetite)," the 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman said. "My favorite food is pasta."

Marcellus, who moved to the United States from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when he was just 3 years old, said he's always been big for his age, and remembers being the tallest kid in his class every year at school.

It wasn't until the eighth grade that Marcellus got hooked on football. Three years later, he's one of the most recruited offensive linemen in Tampa Bay.

Marcellus now has 12 offers, including ones from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Miami. He'll be one to watch on Friday nights this fall, anchoring a crew of both starting and reserve offensive linemen that has just two Dragons under 6 feet and no one under 200 pounds.

But before he takes the field to do what he does best, Marcellus said, he can be found with his teammates, enjoying a pregame meal.

"They always serve my favorite food," Marcellus said. "It will be pasta, and chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, and all that. I can eat 30 chicken nuggets."

Kelly Parsons, Times staff writer

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