TAMPA — When music's not blaring over the mobile sound system at the Morsani Practice Complex, the mantra is.
At USF, it's all about moving forward. Buzz and banter resonate about turning the page, about flicking away the fall of 2013 and stamping on it as if it were a smoldering cigarette butt. Amid this outcry, Marvin Vincent Kloss stands as a husky aberration, a specialist in a safety's body.
In his case, not to mention that of punter and holder Mattias Ciabatti, hitting rewind wouldn't be such a bad thing. If anyone among the perspiring, padded legions in the Bulls' preseason football camp could stand to relive last autumn, it would be these guys.
"It was more of a surprise," the 215-pound fifth-year senior said of his inaugural season as the Bulls' primary kicker. "I don't think anybody saw it coming for me to (step) up."
Subtract Kloss and you might as well subtract USF's lone two victories of 2013. He had 14 of the Bulls' 26 points (four field goals, two PATs) in their 26-20 win Oct. 5 against Cincinnati, and he hit a 44-yarder into a brisk wind for the winner in a 13-10 victory a week later at Connecticut.
By season's end, he had hit a school-record 13 consecutive field goals, the most long field goals in the nation (11 of 40-plus yards, four of 50 or more), and had been named a Groza Award finalist as the nation's top kicker, which went to good buddy Roberto Aguayo of Florida State.
Now, the sequel looms. By all accounts, Kloss — nicknamed "Money" by coach Willie Taggart — is too steady, too tough on himself, to deliver the soccer-style equivalent of Caddyshack II.
"Great mind-set. Overachiever. Always wants to be perfect," said Aguayo, who competed with Kloss in July at the Kohl's National Elite Camp (for collegians and pro free agents) in Wisconsin.
"Throughout camps, when he doesn't make a kick or he doesn't hit a good ball, he gets angry at himself. Same way with me; I get angry at myself because you can't let it slip up. You've got one job and you do this to perfection. … I mean, he can kick a ball. If he does the same thing again this year — hopefully he gets more chances, hopefully USF has a good year — he'll be up there again with me."
Like the majority of his teammates, Kloss spent the offseason adding muscle and mass — nearly 20 pounds' worth — to his 6-foot frame. To ask why a kicker would be so preoccupied with carbs and bench presses is to not know this Frankfurt, Germany, native.
Not long after moving to Florida as a grade-schooler, Kloss' dad, a former German pro soccer player, encouraged his son to try American football. Not just the kicking, the whole crux.
Kloss evolved into a three-year starting receiver and kicker at Naples Barron Collier High, and also punted as a senior. Meantime, his strength increased with his field-goal range. Kloss, who hit all eight field-goal tries (including a 57-yarder) as a Barron Collier senior, can bench press more than 400 pounds.
"We practiced him (at safety), but he was too valuable for us at wide receiver because that sucker could run," said former Barron Collier coach Mark Ivey, now an Appalachian State assistant.
"He would block his tail off. He absolutely pancaked a lot of DBs and safeties."
Might've even taken down a Tiger.
Ask Aguayo or Ivey if Kloss could've tackled Auburn's Chris Davis, who returned a long missed field goal by Alabama's Cade Foster 109 yards on the final frenetic play of the 2013 Iron Bowl, and both affirm without hesitation.
"His nickname's 'Muscle Marv' because he's just jacked," Aguayo said.
Added Ivey: "Marvin made tackles on kickoffs for us frequently."
Alas, the Bulls don't need tackles, though Kloss made one against Florida Atlantic in '13 (losing his helmet in the process). Continued steadiness from him and Ciabatti (40.2-yard average, no blocked punts in '13) will suffice.
"As far as topping (2013), it's kind of tough, but people kind of expect it from you this year," Kloss said.
"They see what you did last year, so last year you kick a far one, everyone's clapping and saying, 'Good job.' And this year in practice, you kick a far one, people are little less excited; they've seen it a couple of times now. So I feel like there might not be more pressure necessarily as far as me making a name for myself, but people are expecting a good performance every time, so I have to be on top of my game."
If preseason camp is any sign, the momentum the kicker and holder harnessed in 2013 has spilled over, even as they break in replacements for long snapper David Burdetsky, who graduated. Kloss says his understanding with Ciabatti, a Hillsborough High alumnus, has probably peaked this preseason.
The incubation of another moniker —Mo' Money — continues.
"Our kicker and our punter, I'll put them up against anybody in the country," Taggart said. "I think those guys are very, very talented, and they should help us big-time on special teams. With those guys kicking the ball for us, it should at least give us a touchdown advantage on anybody we're playing."
Contract Joey Knight at [email protected] or (813) 226-3350. Follow @ TBTimes_Bulls.