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Tara Singer remembers Redskins head coach Jay Gruden long before his last name became synonymous with football.
She remembers his hair being "blazing red "back in the day and that he was a "really good student." She also remembers the time he broke his leg during his junior year at Louisville and later smuggling in a bag of Rice Krispy treats for him to his hospital bed to wish him well.
Nearly 29 years later, Singer, who lives outside of Charlottesville, Va., was in Richmond for a business meeting, stopped by training camp and dropped off another bag of Rice Krispy treats with her contact card inside. It would eventually find its way to Gruden.
"I loved working with the student athletes, and they were just really great young people," Singer said. "Leaders in their own right."
Singer, who worked with Athletic Academic Services at Louisville in the 1980s, was Gruden's advisor while he played quarterback there. He was part of her masters' thesis project with about 50 other people, with whom she ran orientation and tutoring programs.
"What we did was take them out of study hall once a week and let them be college students and see movies and hang out with the girls," Singer said. "[I] wrote a very successful thesis."
Singer's Redskins-Louisville connections don't end there.
She lived in the same dorm building (it was co-ed, separated by a lobby) as legendary offensive lineman Joe Jacoby, though she didn't interact too much with him and his roommates.
"They painted their dorm room black," she said. "Back in those days you could paint your room whatever you wanted. And they chose black. I was a little intimidated by him. It was called 'the cave.'"
Singer could only stay for a short time, watching practice from afar, squinting to see Gruden, her former student whose career she has followed ever since he left the university.
One of her greatest thrills was seeing him hired as the Redskins' head coach last year.
"I remember travelling in the Charlotte airport the day that they made the announcement," she said. "I was in the bar and was like, 'He got the job!'"
Now, she'll wait and see if Gruden remembers the significance of those desserts and hope to reconnect with her former student all these years later.
"I think he might recognize the name," she said.