Published in The Crow’s Nest October 2014
He can bench more than 400 pounds, and he’s a kicker. His name is Marvin Kloss.
Born in Germany, Kloss immigrated to the United States at eight years old, and learned to speak English after arriving. His father, Thomas Kloss, was a professional soccer player overseas before moving to Naples, Fla.
Kloss gained national attention from scouts after making a 57-yard field goal while at Barron Collier High School in Naples. He was ranked as the No. 3 kicker in the nation according to Kohl’s Kicking and No. 7 according to ESPN.com. Kloss was perfect in his senior year at Barron Collier making all eight of his field goals attempts and all 51 of his points after touchdown (PAT) kicks.
Recruited by former Head Coach Skip Holtz, Kloss chose the Bulls over the Florida Gators. Kloss joined the team in 2010 and was redshirted. That very year, Kloss watched the Bulls win the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Clemson 31-26. It was the last bowl appearance to date from the Bulls.
Fast forward a few years later to 2013 and Kloss found himself responsible for 42 percent of the team’s total points on a year where the Bulls won two games. He scored 69 points. Second on the team was running back Marcus Shaw with 18.
That same year, Kloss was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top placekicker in college football. Kloss led the nation with the most field goals made (11) from 40 yards or further. He finished the season 18-for-23 on field goal attempts and made all 15 PATs attempted.
“It’s a great individual achievement, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates,” Kloss said. “It takes a lot more than just a kicker to make a field goal.”
Kloss credits the offensive linemen who take the hits to protect him when kicking, and his holder, junior Mattias Ciabatti, who also is the team’s punter.
Kloss was one of three to earn the team captain title by his teammates at the start of the 2014 season. Now a senior, he finds himself near the top of the list for most points scored on the team again. He has 44 points (9-for-11 on field goals, 17-for-17 PATs), second only to freshman RB Marlon Mack’s 48 points (8 touchdowns).
Kloss has come a long way from once having to deal with kicker stereotypes. He admitted he once tried playing safety but learned to embrace his role as a kicker.
“Theres a saying amongst the kickers ‘You’re either gonna be the hero or you’re gonna be the zero’, so there’s really no in between,” Kloss said. “If a receiver drops the ball in a game, he has a couple more opportunities to make up for it, it’s not really a big deal. A kicker misses a field goal and it’s ‘Whoa! He missed the field goal’. You better pray you get another one or that one wasn’t important.” Thats part of being a kicker. You only get so many opportunities.”
But Kloss wasn’t always a kid dreaming of playing football like many. He originally wanted to follow in his father’s foot steps.
“I didn’t really watch too much football growing up. I’m a soccer guy,” Kloss said.
“If I wasn’t playing football I’d probably be a normal college student here, living the college lifestyle or I would’ve continued my dream playing soccer, because I was playing soccer right before football started,” Kloss said. “I kind of dropped one for the other.”
Like many athletes, Kloss has dreams of becoming a professional football player in the NFL, but doesn’t have a prefered team, just an environment.
“When you get to that point you can’t be picky,” Kloss said. “If I had to choose an environment to play in, I’d probably want to play indoors. I mean, thats a kicker’s dream is to play in a dome to avoid all the harsh weather conditions.”
Only 256 players are selected in each annual NFL draft and then, generally, teams will go into the pool of unselected players and sign about 10-15 more to participate in preseason workouts and for a chance to make the team. The percentage that make a professional team are small compared to those who play collegiate football, which has given Kloss the time to think about his options after USF.
“I’d like to coach at some point and kind of give back,” Kloss said. “There’s so much that people don’t know about kicking. I feel that theres only been a handful of us exposed to training sessions and integrate coaching.”
The 22-year-old has seen his share of up and downs during the rebuilding stages of the football team.
“Even if I’m just making extra points and we’re scoring up and down the field, I’m fine with that,” Kloss said. “As long as we win. I ultimately just want to get back to a bowl game, because I went to one my freshman year and that whole experience was insane. As long as we have more points than the opponent, I’m a happy guy.”
(Photo Courtesy of USF Athletics)