ELON, N.C. – In an announcement made on Monday, Nov. 20, Elon University junior linebacker Warren Messer and freshman quarterback Davis Cheek were named finalists for a pair of national awards. Messer is one of 25 finalists for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award for national defensive player of the year, while Cheek is one of 20 finalists for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award for national freshman of the year.
Messer, who hails from Garner, N.C., is currently second in CAA Football and rates 28th nationally with 9.4 tackles per game. During the regular season, Messer posted 103 total tackles, including 10.0 for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He intercepted two passes and broke up three others, while forcing one fumble. He also posted a team-best six quarterback hurries.
Messer posted 10 or more tackles in each of Elon’s first five games this year, including a career-best 15 tackles in a league win at #6 Richmond. He has six total double-digit tackle performances on the year. In the Phoenix’s victory over William & Mary, Messer had eight tackles, which included a sack for a safety. His interception at Rhode Island sealed a one-point victory for Elon. In a victory at #13 Villanova, Messer finished with five total tackles, including 3.0 for a loss and a pair of sacks.
The Buchanan Award, first awarded in 1995, has sent past winners such as Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel on to the NFL. Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult was the 2016 recipient.
Cheek, a native of Matthews, N.C., currently leads CAA Football and is 26th nationally in with 13.43 yards per completion. He also ranks 36th nationally with a 137.7 passer efficiency mark and 36th with 2,230 passing yards. Among FCS freshmen, Cheek rates third in passing yards, second in passing efficiency, tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (14), fourth in passing yards per game (202.7), fourth in yards per completion and seventh in points responsible for (96).
Twice this season Cheek has been selected as the CAA Football Rookie of the Week and he was named the STATS FCS National Freshman of the Week on Oct. 23. He also earned one conference offensive player of the week award.
Cheek, who has started all 11 games for the Phoenix, has thrown for 300 or more yards three times this year, including a high of 357 yards in a league victory at #13 Villanova. He has had three games in which he tossed three touchdown passes and has led the maroon and gold to three fourth-quarter comebacks. On the year, he has completed 166 of his 280 passes. Cheek has also run for two touchdowns.
The voting panel consists of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. Voting is based on the regular season.