Aggie Notes: Limiting Turnovers Will Be Key For Aggie Signal-Callers

Aug 23, 2023, 12:15 PM | Updated: 1:08 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Despite question marks elsewhere on the roster, the Utah State quarterbacks room is in good hands entering the 2023 campaign.

With less than two weeks before the season opens against the Iowa Hawkeyes, head coach Blake Anderson is happy with where his QBs are at.

RELATED: 2023 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule

“I’ve been pleased with the progress,” Anderson said. “Cooper has gotten better every day and Levi’s been right there beside him at number two. I’ve been really pleased with the progress of McCae Hillstead. He’s, without a doubt, since day one, been the number three. He has matured a lot over the course of the spring and summer.”

“Fall camp has gone really well,” expected second-year starter Cooper Legas said. “We started super-hot on offense and were moving the ball well, and we still are, but the defense is finally coming along, as well, and starting to make plays and create some turnovers. It’s awesome to see that out of the defense. The offense has looked good all of camp.”

RELATED: Former State Champion QB Making Transition To Tight End For Utah State

Utah State Returning Quarterbacks (Listed alphabetically)

Cooper Legas | Senior | Orem, UT

A 6’1, 215-pound senior out of Orem High School, Legas returns as the prohibitive starter after appearing in ten games with eight starts in 2022. He enters the season looking for his third bowl appearance after relieving Logan Bonner in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl and starting the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl in December.

Legas threw for 1,499 yards on 135-0f-221 (.611) and 11 scores with ten interceptions last season. Not afraid to use his legs, Legas added 303 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

“Cooper is definitely more comfortable,” Anderson said of Legas’ growth since last year. “I threw a lot at him in the spring and that was a lot to ask of anybody. He spent a lot of time studying over the summer and he’s more familiar with what needs to happen.”

“I’ve grown a lot,” Legas observed. “With Coach Anderson, he really emphasizes taking care of the ball. All the quarterbacks have improved tremendously in taking care of the ball and not being careless. Finding check-downs and just being responsible for the offense and the team and making sure we take care of everything.”

Legas earned Academic All-Mountain West in 2020 & 2022. He was named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in 2020.

Levi Williams | Grad Junior | Canyon Lake, TX

Injuries limited the 6’5, 230-pound quarterback to six appearances last year after transferring from the University of Wyoming before the season. Williams went 5-of-17 (.294) for 28 yards and one interception. He ran for 51 yards on 10 carries.

Williams spent three seasons in Laramie before transferring to Utah State. In 18 games (12 starts), he was 150-of-278 (.540) through the air for 2,210 yards and 13 touchdowns. Willams also ran for 763 yards and 13 touchdowns on 168 carries.

Out of Smithson Valley High School in Canyon Lake, TX, Williams was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com, and ESPN.com. As a prep senior, he threw for 3,239 yards and 32 scores while rushing for 1,230 yards and another 16 scores.

Williams was named Academic All-Mountain West in 2022.

Utah State Incoming Incoming (Listed alphabetically)

Ezra Harris | Freshman | Stansbury Park, UT

A 6’1, 195-pound true freshman, Harris was added to the Utah State roster ahead of their second scrimmage in fall camp.

Harris was a two-year starter with the Stansbury Stallions before joining USU. He finished his prep career with 4,673 yards, 56 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.

McCae Hillstead | Freshman | Lehi, UT

Slightly undersized at 5’10 and 185 pounds, Hillstead produced outsized numbers as a three-year starter for the Skyridge Falcons. He earned Utah Class 6A second-team all-state honors as a senior when he led the Falcons to a 6A state championship. He finished the year with 1,327 passing yards with 14 touchdowns. For his prep career, Hillstead completed 491-of-816 (.602) passes for 6,898 yards, 73 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions. He added 1,791 yards and 35 touchdowns rushing.

He joins the Aggie quarterback room as a three-star recruit and was named the No. 15 prospect in Utah according to 247Sports.com.

Zeke Payne | Junior | San Diego, CA

At 6’1, 215 pounds, Payne comes to Logan after spending 2022 with New Mexico Highlands where he completed 18-of-33 passes for 373 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in three games.

In 2021, Payne was named the Southern California Football Association Co-Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,795 yards and 26 touchdowns with Palomar College in San Marcos, CA.

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State begins the 2023 campaign with a road test against the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts the Aggies on Saturday, September 2 with a 10 a.m. (MT) season-opening kickoff. The Hawkeyes ended 2022 with a 21-0 shutout against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl to finish the season at 8-5.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Aggie Notes: Limiting Turnovers Will Be Key For Aggie Signal-Callers