Aggies name true freshman McCae Hillstead new starting quarterback


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LOGAN — Utah State senior quarterback Cooper Legas was the guy, and there was no debate or question about it going into the season.

"He's the guy, and he did everything he needed to earn that," Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said ahead of fall camp.

Now, two months after Anderson named Legas his starting quarterback at a national media event where he and Legas were two of only three Utah State representatives, the Aggies have a new starting quarterback.

On Monday, Anderson announced that former Skyridge High quarterback McCae Hillstead, a freshman who posted more than 200 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against Air Force Friday, will be the team's starting quarterback moving forward.

"I hate being in the situation we're in, but also it's my job to assess it and move forward as I think fits our team the best and gives us the best chance to win right now," Anderson said. "That is the goal. I want to win; I want to win now."

The true freshman from Lehi started for three years at Skyridge, passed for nearly 7,000 yards, completed more than 60% of his passes, and threw for 73 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He also ran for over 1,700 yards and scored 35 rushing touchdowns. It was quite an accomplished high school career, all before he turned 19 just three months ago.

"McCae is really talented," Aggies co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Kyle Cefalo said. "But he's still really young. He can do a lot of good things, but we've got to make sure we're doing our part to take care of the youngster."

Fortunately for Hillstead, he has an explosive corps of receivers and running backs to take care of him, as Cefalo said. The Aggies have acquired a slew of talented skill players that will seek to take some pressure off their new starting quarterback.

Terrell Vaughn, who is one of Hillstead's guys who will play a big role in helping the freshman feel comfortable, currently ranks third in the FBS in receptions per game and is tied for sixth in the FBS for receiving touchdowns.

For Vaughn, the switch at quarterback doesn't change much for him, but he said the coaching staff counts on him to make plays. In return, Vaughn counts on the coaching staff to put the right quarterback under center to help make that happen. Both Vaughn and Micah Davis, who led the Aggies in receiving yards against Air Force, said they will rally around Hillstead to help him out.

"He's a great quarterback, no matter what," Vaughn said. "I don't care what anyone says about him, but I'll have his back no matter what."

While Hillstead is listed officially as the starting quarterback against James Madison, Anderson said he is confident that Legas will get another chance to prove himself, citing injury against a physical schedule.

The Aggies face James Madison at home in a white out game Saturday (6 p.m., KJZZ).

Anderson asked for fans to show up to the game in numbers and to be loud, adding that his team will need the support against an undefeated James Madison team that hopes to make the Aggies its next victim.

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Andrew Hyde is a student at Utah State University majoring in economics with minors in data analytics and French. He is an avid college football fan, loves spending time with his family and serving in his church community, and hopes to eventually pursue an MBA.

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