Mike Hohensee will start at quarterback for the Washington Federals against the Chicago Blitz Sunday, Coach Ray Jauch said yesterday. He also said Joe Gilliam, who was 11 for 34 passing against Birmingham in the last game, will compete for the backup spot with Kim McQuilken, who is on the 10-man developmental squad.

The Federals meanwhile announced they had signed Mike Muller from Maryland and will use him as a middle linebacker, and the Michigan Panthers said they had traded offensive guard Tony Vitale to Washington for future considerations. Although he was a territorial draft choice of the U.S. Football League's Federals, Muller elected to wait for the recent National Football League draft, but was not chosen.

Hohensee said earlier this week he was not sure why Jauch had replaced him with Gilliam in the second half Sunday. All three quarterbacks have started during the season.

McQuilken, 31, who quarterbacked the Federals to their only victory, has not been happy with his present role. "I'm at the age where to be a third-string quarterback doesn't interest me," he said. "I want to be the starter, or at least the backup."

Jauch also said he would replace cornerback Gregg Butler with Willie Holley, and was considering replacing middle linebacker Ed Baxley with Kevin McLain. McLain, a first-round draft choice for the Los Angeles Rams in 1977, was signed last week.

Muller said he had a chance to sign with the Colts and the Cowboys as a free agent, "but I probably have a better chance of playing here. I didn't go with the Feds originally because I was drained after the fall season. But I've been eyeing this team since Day One. As far as what they've done so far, it doesn't matter to me."

He said he probably was not drafted because he is too small at 6 feet 1 and 225 pounds for the NFL.

Muller transferred to Maryland from Virginia Military Institute, sat out a year, then started at linebacker for the Terrapins, 1980-82. He said he plans to graduate this summer.