If you’re an elite recruit, considered one of the best in the nation, it’s not necessary to impress college scouts following your junior year of high school. Your decision is simply eagerly awaited.
It was that way for Jimmy Clausen of Oaks Christian High, rated America’s No. 1 quarterback prospect. He chose Notre Dame.
For the vast majority, though – players who’ve reached the recruiting radar screen – they have to prove themselves all over again at summer camps. That’s the way it works nowadays. They compete for a scholarship and college coaches take their pick.
In this environment, Santa Monica High’s Ryan Katz excelled two weeks ago in camps at Oregon State and Oregon.
He was so impressive in demonstrating football and leadership skills that both schools wanted him and Washington jumped into the picture too, along with about a dozen schools outside the Pac-10 Conference.
But Katz made his decision quickly, announcing that following his senior year at Samohi he will play for Oregon State.
“I’m not going to visit Washington,” he told a reporter from Oregon State University’s athletic website. “I’m a Beaver.”
“I felt it was the right place to be. It had everything I wanted.”
Katz went on to say he enjoyed a family atmosphere at Oregon State. And it didn’t hurt that Cameron Collins, his Samohi teammate the last two years, will play for Oregon State beginning this season.
“We used to joke about going to the same college,” Katz said. “Now it’s going to happen.”
Katz’s decision pleased Samohi head coach Zach Cuda and his brother, Viking assistant coach Conrad Cuda. They’re both Oregon State graduates, and they were instructors at the camp in Corvallis where Katz did so well.
Although Culver City High’s Darius Banks received the most national publicity of any Ocean League quarterback the last two years, the Cudas were confident that Katz would make an impression when the time came for evaluations.
Banks, who led the state in passing, has not yet made a college commitment. Banks and Katz, who have dueled the last three years – first on their school’s freshmen teams and then with the varsity – will meet one more time in the upcoming season.
Katz said he will sign a letter of intent with Oregon State in the next signing period in November. Although college coaches cannot comment on players who have only made verbal commitments, Oregon State’s Mike Riley is reportedly excited about Katz’s decision.
Last season, Oregon State defeated USC behind quarterback Matt Moore, who had transferred from UCLA. Moore has graduated, but 6-foot-4 sophomore Sean Canfield is the likely starter this season and next, while Katz makes adjustments to college life. If Canfield then leaves a year early for the NFL, as has been speculated, Katz could become the starter as a redshirt sophomore.
Katz passed for 1900 yards last season and scored five touchdowns as a runner. His running has improved so much that Samohi will install some shotgun formation plays this season to take advantage of his versatility.
In addition, Katz has a 3.8 grade point average.
Riley, who was once an assistant at USC and head coach of the San Diego Chargers, is known to have recommended the drafting of Tom Brady when he came out of Michigan.
However, NFL people weren’t as impressed with Brady, who lasted until the fifth round of the draft.
After winning three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots, Brady has shown that Riley had a pretty good grasp of what makes a special quarterback.
And now, at Santa Monica High, Riley has found another quarterback who he believes can be special.