DENVER — Former Santa Monica standout Ryan Katz’ long journey through college football may finally pay off.
The former San Diego State and Oregon State quarterback has signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos, it was announced this week.
After going undrafted in the recent National Football League Draft, nothing is guaranteed, but Katz is excited to finally see his dream coming closer to reality.
“I feel good,” he said. “It was pretty stressful watching the draft. I’m glad that’s over and I know where I’m going to play.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Katz.
He started his path to the pros at Oregon State, earning the starting spot his sophomore season. He held the job until early in his junior season when he was supplanted by then redshirt freshman Sean Mannion.
Once he realized that his odds of regaining the starting spot were long, he decided to transfer to San Diego State for his senior season. He was immediately eligible to play because he was seeking his master’s degree in a program that Oregon State didn’t offer.
Katz found himself under center on opening day, but his fortunes would turn again. He broke his ankle midway through what was turning into a successful season, forcing him to sit the remainder of the year.
In eight games, Katz racked up 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns. He added another 422 yards rushing and four scores.
Health issues may have played a part in his being passed over in the draft, but his big arm and pro-type build are giving his football career life.
“I feel like I’m in a good position,” Katz said of the situation with the Broncos. “I’m going to go in there and compete.”
With Peyton Manning the lock to start the season, Katz will battle for the backup spots with second-year pro Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert, who was drafted by the Broncos in the seventh round.
Osweiler is expected to remain the primary backup, so Dysert and Katz are left to fight it out for the third, and possible final roster spot.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said of the competition. “All I can do is play.”
Katz’ quest for a roster spot begins next Wednesday when rookie mini camp opens. The initial camp is four days. If they keep him beyond that point he will be invited to stay and take part in the team’s official off-season program.
In the meantime, Katz is wrapping up his education. He’s set to earn his master’s degree in educational leadership this spring from SDSU.
He said that if pro football doesn’t pan out, he’s considering using his degree to stay close to what he loves best.
“That’s what intrigued me [about the degree],” he said. “I always wanted to stay in athletics.”