PASADENA — When Oregon State starting quarterback Ryan Katz leads his Beavers onto the field against host UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, he will have somewhat of a personal home-field advantage.
The former Santa Monica High School standout grew up in the Los Angeles region and expects to have more than 100 friends and family in the stands rooting him on, a fact that eases the young signal caller as he makes his first college start in the area.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Katz said. “But, it’s still a business trip. We’re looking to win.”
Ironically, UCLA was one of the teams seriously recruiting Katz out of high school and only at the last minute pulled out of the running. He knows a number of Bruins who were in that recruiting class, giving him yet another level of familiarity against UCLA.
He said he harbors no ill will against the Bruins, but did admit that the revenge factor plays a little bit of a role.
Katz, a redshirt sophomore, has started all seven games for Oregon State this season, leading the Beavers to a 4-3 record overall and a 3-1 mark in Pac-10 play. The Bruins come into the game 3-5 overall and a disappointing 1-4 in conference.
This will be Katz’ second trip to the L.A. area in his time with OSU. Last year, the Beavers played USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but Katz was a backup who didn’t get a chance to enter the game.
He said that experience was positive, but is glad this time around he’ll be playing.
“Finally, my people will get a chance to see me play,” Katz said. “This will be the first time a lot of them have seen me play since high school.”
In his first season as a starter, Katz has completed 122 of 206 pass attempts good for a 59.2 percentage. He has also tossed 11 touchdowns and has rushed for a pair of scores.
Katz’ role with the Beavers has grown as the season has progressed. Ranked No. 24 in the preseason Associated Press poll, Oregon State was led by the Rodgers brothers — James and Jacquizz — but has had to adjust to life with just one of the dynamic play makers. James Rodgers was injured earlier this season, taking away Katz’ primary wide receiver. Since, Katz has had to step up to fill the leadership void.
“In a sense, it stays the same,” he said, “but, I feel like it’s my job to take on a leadership role to get our guys going.”
The game is scheduled for Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It will begin at 4 p.m.