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Ryan Katz, Santa Monica High School varsity football team runs drills during practice on Wednesday, September 5, 2007.

(photo by Fabianlewkowicz.com)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — What a way to make a debut.

Former Santa Monica High School standout quarterback Ryan Katz is scheduled to make the first start of his college career Saturday against No. 6 ranked TCU as he leads No. 24 Oregon State in the season opener.

Making the stakes even higher is the location of the game: the new Cowboys Stadium and its 100,000-plus seating capacity.

Katz, who is a sophomore, doesn’t seem to be too fazed about such a daunting task.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for me,” Katz said. “It should be a fun game.”

Since graduating from Samohi in 2008, Katz has been relegated to being a backup with few opportunities to take the field. That changes on Saturday.

"Ryan is well prepared, and that is the best thing for him as far as the confidence and being able to handle it,” OSU Head Coach Mike Riley said during a press conference on Tuesday. “There will still be some butterflies now, it’s his first start, and he has been looking forward to this for a long time. As soon as (players) decide where they’re going to college, they start thinking about that time when they are going to get to play. He has been here for over two years and he’s well prepared. With that preparation, comes a natural excitement, which is a lot of different emotions.”

Helping ease any anxiety Katz may have heading into the game is the work he put in during the summer. He and the heralded Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz and wide receiver James, have gone as far as leading players-only practices to build chemistry as Oregon State heads into the season nationally ranked.

“It went well,” Katz said of the practices. “It was good to see guys stick around during the summer.”

If Katz is experiencing any jitters in the days before taking on TCU he’ll have to get over that fast. TCU comes into the game on the heels of an appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game last season and should give the OSU Beavers a hard time in what is technically a neutral site game, despite being played in TCU’s home state of Texas.

“I know Coach Riley’s philosophy is to run the ball,” Katz said, “but I feel that we’ll get opportunities to take shots down the field, giving us a balanced attack.”

As for those nerves, Katz told the Daily Press he’ll take that in stride.

“I’m just ready to come out and play,” he said. “Considering that it’s been two years since high school, I’m just excited to get at it again.”

daniela@smdp.com

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