Prior to his freshman year at Barron Collier High School in Naples, senior kicker Marvin Kloss had not played a down of football.
Four years later, ESPN.com ranked him as the seventh best kicker in the nation.
Kloss’ journey to USF began in Germany, where he developed a passion for kicking from playing soccer.
“I was born in Germany and then came over here at 8 and learned football here as a freshman in high school,” Kloss said. “There’s definitely no football over there, as far as American football. I grew up on the soccer fields playing soccer and watching my dad play a bunch of soccer. There’s no college or professional football over there, so after playing soccer you would go home and only watch soccer.”
Learning English was Kloss’ first difficult task, but he quickly mastered it – just as he did with
“Luckily, there was another German boy that I became best friends with in my class and he helped me with it because he had an American father and a German mother,” Kloss said.
Kloss came to Florida just before entering the second grade, but didn’t play football until high school.
“My high school varsity coach came out to one of the soccer practices and asked if I wanted to give football a shot,” he said. “He put me on the kickoff team, and long story short, he said that was good enough.”
Kicking runs in the Kloss family. Marvin’s father, Thomas Kloss, was a professional soccer player for Frankfurt in Germany.
“My dad didn’t know much about football, at least American football, but he always stressed leg workouts and taking care of my legs,” Kloss said. “He would take me out a lot for conditioning and private training. He whipped me into shape and kept my head on straight as far as waking up
during the weekends. He would work with me before and after practice and he was my coach for a while, as well.”
Kloss is not only known for his leg strength. The senior kicker has been recorded to bench press over 400 pounds and is constantly in the gym.
“When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the weight room a lot and I hated it, but last year I roomed with a fullback and he kind of got me in the weight room a lot, and now it is a must for me to get my lifts in every day,” Kloss said.
Junior punter Mattias Ciabatti said there is no competition when it comes to bench press competitions.
“It’s not even close and I bench a little over half of what he does, so we don’t even bother,” Ciabatti said.
This season, Kloss was named a team captain and has stepped up to the challenge by not only fulfilling his duties as a kicker, but also instructing other team members and being a leader for the special teams.
Ciabatti said Kloss has been the leader of the special teams unit and offers advice to anyone on the team who comes to him.
“People look up to him. Whenever you need advice, you go to Kloss and he’s the head of our group right now,” Ciabatti said. “He’s a senior, so he’s kind of like the head honcho in our group and everyone goes to him when they need advice or tips.”
Kloss coaches the other kickers on technique and routine when they come to him for help.
Ciabatti said kickers tend to be more relaxed and reserved players on the football field, but that does not seem to be the case for Kloss, a Lou Groza award finalist.
“He’s a high-emotion guy,” Ciabatti said. “He’s very fired up when he makes it. When he misses it, he gets fired up too, but he’s angry. He’s definitely got some fire in him. If he’s calm, there is something wrong with him or he’s sick.”
Kloss isn’t sure what fuels his passion, but said he knows that he’s always looking forward to game time.
“I know a couple guys who like to listen to soft music before the game or have ear buds in to block out the crowd and I kind of embrace all of it because when you play in a big stadium like Wisconsin, you get hyped for those kickoffs and kick it a little farther every time,” Kloss said.
Kloss’ success on the field last season inspired Taggart to give the kicker a nickname to suit his performance: Money.
“(Taggart) calls him ATM as well, because the ATM always delivers,” Ciabatti said.
While the nickname resonates with the team and the fans, Kloss has established himself as a reliable part of the team and a player that coaches and players alike can count on.
“I think last year was a big thing. He hit 13 field goals in a row and I think he hit like 10 over 40 yards,” Ciabatti said. “He was money and people got used to it and that’s where the trust factor comes into play. He was killing it all year last year and you know he is going to do it this year.”