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Elon Picked 5th In Preseason CAA Football Poll

Elon enters the 2018 campaign off of an 8-4 season in which the Phoenix made its second-ever appearance in the FCS Playoffs.
Davis Cheek Elon QB

BALTIMORE, Md. – Elon University football players Warren Messer and CJ Toogood were among the players named to the 2018 CAA Football Preseason All-Conference Team during the league's annual Media Day festivities at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, on Tuesday, July 25. The league also announced its preseason predicted order of finish, which placed the Phoenix fifth in the 12-team conference.

Messer, a linebacker who hails from Garner, N.C., earned All-America honors from both STATS FCS and Phil Steele following his junior campaign. He finished 10th in the voting for the 2017 Buck Buchanan Award and ended the year ranked 25th nationally with 9.5 tackles per game. Elon's first CAA Football first-team all-conference performer, Messer posted a team-best 114 total tackles, including 11.0 for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He intercepted two passes and broke up three others, while forcing two fumbles. He also posted a team-high eight quarterback hurries. Messer posted 10 or more tackles in each of Elon's first five games in 2017, including a career-best 15 tackles in a league win at No. 6 Richmond. He had seven total double-digit tackle performances a year ago. In the Phoenix's victory over William & Mary, he 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 No. 13 Villanova, Messer finished with five total tackles, including 3.0 for a loss and a pair of sacks.

Toogood, a senior offensive lineman who hails from Holly Springs, N.C., helped the Phoenix run for 1,819 yards and score 13 rushing touchdowns last season. He was a second-team all-conference selection as a junior. Elon's rushing attack concluded the season ranked fourth in the conference and 56th nationally with 164.5 rushing yards per game. The offensive line group helped the Phoenix to rank fourth in the league with just 23 sacks allowed.

The league's coaches and media relations directors selected Elon to finish fifth in the conference in 2018, the highest preseason selection for the program since joining CAA Football. The Phoenix earned 168 total points and picked up one first-place vote. James Madison earned 21 first-place votes and was chosen to repeat as conference champion. New Hampshire, Delaware and Stony Brook were picked to finish between the Phoenix and Dukes.

Elon enters the 2018 campaign off of an 8-4 season in which the Phoenix made its second-ever appearance in the FCS Playoffs. Under first-year coach Curt Cignetti, Elon posted a six-game improvement from 2016 to 2017. Cignetti was named the CAA Football Coach of the Year and the team featured six all-conference players and the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Phoenix defeated four ranked opponents and made its first appearance in the national polls since the 2010 campaign. The team won eight straight games during the season, the fourth longest such streak within a season in the history of the program.

2018 Preseason Poll

1. James Madison (21 first-place votes) – 241 points

2. New Hampshire (2) – 206

3. Delaware – 182

4. Stony Brook – 169

5. Elon (1) – 168

6. Villanova – 164

7. Richmond – 127

8. Maine – 81

9. Albany – 78

10. Towson – 74

11. William & Mary – 55

12. Rhode Island – 39

2018 Preseason All-CAA Football Team

Offense

QB – Trevor Knight, New Hampshire (Preseason Offensive Player of the Year)

RB – Kani Kane, Delaware

RB – Marcus Marshall, James Madison

FB – Cal Daniels, Stony Brook

WR – Dejon Brissett, Richmond

WR – Neil O'Connor, New Hampshire

WR – Aaron Parker, Rhode Island

TE – Charles Scarff, Delaware

OL – Mario Farinella, Delaware

OL – Ethan Greenidge, Villanova

OL – Jahee Jackson, James Madison

OL – CJ Toogood, Elon

OL – John Yarbrough, Richmond

Defense

DL – Darrious Carter, James Madison

DL – Andrew Clyde, Richmond

DL – Brandon Ginnetti, Rhode Island

DL – Kayon Whitaker, Maine

LB – Quinlen Dean, New Hampshire

LB – Shayne Lawless, Stony Brook

LB – Warren Messer, Elon

LB – Troy Reeder, Delaware

S – Nasir Adderley, Delaware

S – Rob Rolle, Villanova

CB – Jimmy Moreland, James Madison

CB – Rashad Robinson, James Madison (Preseason Defensive Player of the Year)

Special Teams

KR – Earnest Edwards, Maine

PR – Donovan McDonald, Albany

PK – Griffin Trau, Richmond

P – Harry O'Kelly, James Madison

SPEC – Mazai Nelson, Maine