QB McCae Hillstead was worth rearranging things for BYU. For Utah State, his departure leaves a sour taste.

Eye on the Y: Aaron Roderick explains his decision to add another transfer. Utah State explains the sting of losing their talent to the Power Four school that didn’t want him.

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said he was done adding to the quarterback room after spring ball ended. Everything he needed at the position was already on the roster.

But when the Cougars had the chance to dip back into the transfer portal, they went and signed former Utah State quarterback McCae Hillstead.

So why the change of heart?

“It was a unique situation,” Roderick said. “Because we passed on him in high school. And then he went to Utah State and did a really good job. ... We just felt like we can’t pass on him again.”

So now the Cougars have three transfer portal quarterbacks this offseason. That is even more than they took last year when BYU added Kedon Slovis and Jake Retzlaff. It makes the numbers in the room more crowded, and Roderick is still trying to make it work.

Essentially, as Roderick sees it, he is treating Hillstead like a class of 2025 recruit. Because he is so young, he still has three years of eligibility remaining plus a redshirt year. Roderick figured he would take him in the transfer portal and possibly not sign a class of 2025 quarterback.

“We probably won’t sign a quarterback in this class,” he said. “I will just slide McCae into that slot.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Zach Hale (2) of Corner Canyon tries to take down Skyridge quarterback McCae Hillstead (7) in prep football action between the Corner Canyon Chargers and the Skyridge Falcons, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Draper.

And if you think of Hillstead like a class of 2025 recruit, it does balance out the room. Because in that light, Roderick would have a quarterback for every eligibility range for the next few years. It gives the room some stability, in theory, long term.

Gerry Bohanon has one year of eligibility left. Retzlaff has two years. Treyson Bourguet has three years. Hillstead would have four years to play three seasons. And then freshman Noah Lugo is just starting his clock. It is complicated math, but it can work.

“It’s actually spaced out in a way,” Roderick said. “You never know how it’s going to play out. But there’s hope for everyone, you know, that they can do it [and play].”

Roderick believes Hillstead was worth the mathematical headache to take a risk. In his estimation, it is a “myth” that BYU could have too many quarterbacks. It needs to keep stacking the room until it finds a single quarterback that will hit.

Plus, the Lehi native showed flashes of being a Power Four player with the Aggies last year. In eight games as a true freshman, he threw for more than 1,000 yards. Roderick didn’t want a local player to slip through his fingers twice.

“Everybody passed on him [out of high school]. It wasn’t just us, you know,” he said. “Power Four teams, or Power Five whatever you want to call it, no one recruited him.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Skyridge High School quarterback McCae Hillstead in Lehi on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

It makes it even more difficult for USU to handle. The Aggies were the one team that did believe in the 5-foot-10 quarterback out of high school. They started him in several games as a true freshman. He was their future — even if he wasn’t going to start to begin his sophomore year.

Instead, Hillstead went to an in-state, Power Four school that didn’t offer him out of high school.

“That’s where college football is at right now,” USU co-offensive coordinator Kyle Cefalo said. “It is what it is. ... We were hoping he was going to stick it out with us and just keep on growing, keep maturing and keep competing. But he made a decision that he wanted to, you know? Maybe felt like he got a better opportunity somewhere else. And he did that.

“I didn’t want him to leave, expect him to leave, but I don’t know. You’re kind of at the point with this whole transfer deal that the initial reaction is to take it personal. ‘I can’t believe you’re leaving.’ But at the same time, it’s hard to get upset anymore. You know what, if you want to leave, I want you to go be happy somewhere. ... Wherever he’s at now, he’ll go have a heck of a career.”

BYU is hoping the same. It moved around plenty of numbers so he would have a chance.