Football is won in the trenches....anyone whose covered the game...better yet, played it know...TaVarr Closs was a good one who played for UConn in the Mid 1990's. But his road to success didn't come easy. Like many before and after him, he had to grow up a bit. And when he did, TaVarr Closs became a solid man up front for the Huskies.
TaVarr was raised by his Mom and two Grandmothers...numerous cousins too. Including Keith, a slim 7-2 who played basketball at Central CT and still holds the NCAA Record for blocks per game (5.87), spent three seasons with the L.A. Clippers..He grew up in Hartford and attended Hartford Public High School. Basketball was his love, but was pressured to try football. As numerous stories indicate, Closs quit the game in both Freshman and Sophomore Years....But when he stuck with the game, he found out he was good enough to get looks from schools like Florida A&M, Florida St and yes, UConn. Who worked hard recruiting him, which impressed Closs. Add to the fact Storrs was close to home, Storrs it was.
But it almost didn't work...as an altercation during orientation almost got him kicked out of school before it started. Which sent him to the Hartford Campus and as they say, grow up...His weight went up to 360lbs and while in Hartford, a coaching change took place as Tom Jackson left and enter Skip Holtz. Who along with offensive line coach Greg Hudson began to shape Closs into a better player and person. Holtz' motivation changed Closs into a solid performer. In 1995, he played in all 11 games, starting 7 at left guard...while surpassing the 400lb mark bench pressing in the weight room. It earned Closs all Conference honors in an 8-3 season where he opened holes for the likes of Wilbur Gilliard and Tory Taylor..and protect a stud freshman qb who had a great four year run in Shane Stafford...
Sharrod Joseph, whose career overlapped with a young Closs, mentored him early on...by the time Closs was a Junior, Holtz and Hudson said TaVarr came back a man. Sculpted at 6-5 and around 300lbs...ready to take control of the offensive line. Protecting Stafford in a disappointing 5-6 year, he threw for 2,300 yards...Earning him All Yankee Conference and second team I-AA All American Honors
Enter 1997, where the Huskies went 7-4 in their first year in the A-10...Stafford threw for 2,800 yards and 23 TD's...Closs blocking for the likes of R.C. Jump, who led the Huskies in rushing. The big left guard was selected as a first team All A-10 selection and this time around, a First Team I-AA All American...There were hopes Closs would be drafted, or get picked up as a free agent...Holtz describing Closs this way per a Courant Article...."you watch him run, see his agility, height and weight and you say wow !! He just needs to be more consistent..but he's a great talent with unlimited potential."
Today at last check, Closs is back in Hartford mentoring young people for ANU Mentoring and Tutoring. One of the Big Uglies up front that led to the success of the Huskies in mid 90's...TaVarr Closs, an All American and a UConn Legend