5 Transfer Portal Landing Spots for McCae Hillstead: Washington State, Utah Options for the Utah State QB?

    Utah State brought in two Power Five QBs this offseason, forcing true sophomore McCae Hillstead to find a new landing spot in the transfer portal.

    Despite McCae Hillstead flashing as a true freshman last season, Utah State opted to bring in two Power Five transfers to compete for the starting spot in 2024. Hillstead read the writing on the wall with spring ball coming to a close, becoming a transfer option himself. Where will the former three-star QB out of Lehi, Utah, land?

    Landing Spots for McCae Hillstead

    In eight games (four starts), Hillstead completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,062 yards, 11 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, adding 36 yards on the ground. And against James Madison in Week 4, he threw a freshman program record of 399 passing yards.

    While he was inconsistent, it was his first year of collegiate football, and he showed enough promise to warrant confidence from the coaching staff. Yet, the Aggies added Iowa’s Spencer Petras and Utah’s Bryson Barnes to a room that already housed Hillstead and Cooper Legas, who started 15 games in the last two years.

    This late in the process, there aren’t many clear landing spots where Hillstead can come in and compete for the QB1 job right away. But with three years of eligibility and a redshirt remaining, perhaps he’s willing to sit a year at a program that fits his skill set.

    Washington State Cougars

    The first of a few landing spots that recruited Hillstead in the 2023 class, the Cougars have six QBs currently on the roster (four are freshmen). Bryant transfer Zevi Eckhaus and redshirt sophomore John Mateer are the frontrunners to replace Cameron Ward in 2024, but Hillstead can easily join the mix. If head coach Jake Dickert prefers Eckhaus in his last season of eligibility, Hillstead could be the favorite for 2025 and beyond.

    Nevada Wolf Pack

    Nevada is in trouble at the QB position. Holdovers Brendon Lewis and AJ Bianco struggled mightily last season, and Jeff Choate and Co. deemed Nebraska’s Chubba Purdy as the savior. However, Brock Purdy’s younger brother has completed just 50.6% of his passes for 529 yards, three TDs, and five INTs in two seasons with the Cornhuskers. Hillstead is an instant upgrade.

    FIU Panthers

    The Panthers recruited Hillstead coming out of high school but ultimately landed Keyone Jenkins. Like the Utah State QB, Jenkins flashed as a dual-threat true freshman. Yet, after back-to-back 4-8 campaigns, head coach Mike MacIntyre needs to show improvement in Year 3. Hillstead could challenge Jenkins for the No. 1 spot, serve as an insurance plan if the latter sputters out during the season, or form a two-QB system.

    Utah Utes

    The Utes are set at QB in 2024, with Cameron Rising returning for his seventh collegiate season. But Hillstead could be the future of the position in his home state. Yes, four-star true freshman Isaac Wilson is in Salt Lake City, but he hasn’t taken a live snap yet. Let him and Hillstead duel for the right of the heir apparent at a prestigious program.

    Albany Great Danes

    Hillstead could decide to join the FCS ranks for a year or two to build his résumé and transfer into the Power Five at a later date. If that’s the route he chooses, Albany could be a top option.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West QB Rankings

    The Great Danes just sent Reese Poffenbarger to Miami after he led the FCS with 3,603 yards and 36 TDs.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles