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Center Ryan Katz quarterback from Oregon State University smiles as he laughes with fellow teamates after Orgeon State scored their second touchdown of the game to go up 13-7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena California wihich is the home stadium of the UCLA bruins football team as UCLA hosted Oregon State in Pacific 10 confernece match and won 17-14 when UCLA placekicker Kai Forbath kicked a 51 yard field goal as time expired. With the win UCLA improves its record to 2-2 in the confernece and 4-5 overall (photo by Morgan Genser)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Ryan Katz’ search for a new place to play college football has led him to San Diego State, he revealed on Wednesday.

The former Santa Monica standout at quarterback had decided to leave Oregon State in November after losing the starting job early in the fall of 2011.

During his time at Oregon State, Katz played in 18 games with 14 of those appearances starts. He completed 239 of 406 passes for 2,722 yards and 19 touchdowns.

“I feel good about my decision,” Katz told the Daily Press. “The [San Diego State] program is going in the right direction. They have a good team coming back.”

SDSU’s offensive coordinator, Andy Ludwig, had a hand in luring the strong-armed signal caller back to California, Katz said.

Ludwig recruited Katz out of Samohi when he was with Utah and kept tabs on him while he was at Oregon State. Once Ludwig heard Katz was available, he reached out to see if something could be done.

Apparently Katz liked what he heard and chose SDSU over Hawaii and San Jose State, where his high school teammate Amar Pal is an offensive lineman.

Katz will be immediately eligible to play after graduating from Oregon State and transferring to a school that offered a post-graduate degree not offered in Corvallis. He will study higher education leadership while he is on campus.

The desire to leave Oregon State began shortly after Katz was benched during the second game of the 2011 season. With a desire to pursue a career in the NFL, he couldn’t help but wonder if there was someplace else that he could crack the lineup.

“If I was content with just getting my degree, I would have stayed at Oregon State,” he said. “My dream is to play in the NFL. I want to continue playing for as long as I can.”

A spokesperson for San Diego State could not confirm Katz’ transfer, saying that an announcement may be made early next week when classes resume following the winter break.

Katz isn’t the only highly-touted transfer headed to San Diego. Former USC wide receiver Brice Butler will suit up for the Aztecs in the fall, and former Trojan running back Dillon Baxter, a five-star recruit out of San Diego Mission Bay High School, will also join the squad but will not be eligible to play until the 2013 season per NCAA transfer rules.

The presence of Butler was a definite selling point for Katz as he pondered his decision. The Aztecs’ pro-style offense was another factor that led him back to his native SoCal.

“You kidding, it’s 30 degrees [in Oregon],” he joked. “Plus, being close to home was important to me. It’ll be easier for them to come out and see me play.”

Next for Katz is enrollment and getting situated with his housing. Spring practice begins in late February or early March. While he waits, Katz said that he’ll spend his time familiarizing himself with the Aztecs’ system, hoping it opens the door for a starting opportunity.

“I want to get to know everyone once I get down there,” he said. “I just want to work hard and show these guys that I’m ready for next year.”

Katz is poised to step into a battle for the starting nod that opened up with the graduation of last year’s starter senior Ryan Lindley.

“I don’t think anyone has an edge, and I think it’s going to be highly competitive, which is the way it should be when you lose a starting quarterback who’s taken almost every snap for four years,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long told San Diego’s North County Times this week, without accounting for Katz who hasn’t officially enrolled yet.

Through the whole process, Katz has remained positive in the face of what could be a challenging situation. What the ordeal has taught him is that there are hard realities when it comes to big-time college football.

“It is a business,” he said. “Things happen and sometimes you have to make hard decisions.

“I had to keep telling myself to not lose faith and just keep grinding.”

daniela@smdp.com