Jacob Charest, Christian LeMay, Riley Ferguson, Anthony Ratliff-Williams.
The last four Butler starting quarterbacks have had standout careers and earned major college football scholarships: Charest at the University of Illinois, LeMay at University of Georgia (now at Jacksonville State), Ferguson at University of Tennessee (now at Coffeyville, Ka., Community), Anthony Ratliff-Williams at the University of North Carolina.
Now comes Davis Cheek.
The junior quarterback wants to help write the next championship chapter in Bulldog football history and hopes his name will be mentioned some day with the other standouts.
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“Coming after Jacob Charest, Christian (LeMay), Riley (Ferguson) and Anthony (Ratliff-Williams) is a huge responsibility, because they are all Butler legends,” Cheek said recently. “My goal is definitely to be mentioned with those guys one day. That would be a great honor. As a competitor, I want to be the best. But if I can live up to the standard that has been set here, I’ll be doing pretty good.
“In the end, I know I just have to be myself on the field. My job is to go out and help this Butler team be the best team we can be.”
Butler coach Brian Hales said “Butler quarterbacks all know about the guys that have come before and the expectations that come with the history of the position.”
He has coached all of the previously mentioned quarterbacks as the Bulldogs’ head coach for the last five years and as an assistant for seven years before that.
“There is pressure that goes with being our starting quarterback,” Hales said. “I’m going to put more pressure on them, because we expect a lot out of quarterbacks. We believe Davis has the potential to be another great quarterback for us.”
Cheek, 16, has had his ups and downs in his first three starts – Butler is 2-1. He has completed 31 of 51 passes for 455 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback had his best game against Western Alamance on Sept. 4. He went 14-for-15 for 188 yards passing and two touchdowns. Cheek also scored on a 17-yard touchdown run.
He has gotten better with each start, posting a 47.5 quarterback rating in the opener against Olympic, a 70.1 rating against No. 1 Mallard Creek and a 154.0 rating against Western Alamance.
“I’ve learned a lot in each start,” Cheek said. “Against Olympic, I was very anxious to get going and didn’t control my emotions well. So, I try never to get too high or too low within a game. Against Mallard Creek, I learned you have to execute no matter who you are playing.
“Against Western Alamance, everything fell into place and clicked for me. I’m going to keep working every day to try to have those types of games every week.”
Cheek is quick to give credit to his teammates from senior running back, Benny LeMay to his wide receivers to his offensive line.
LeMay, a Charlotte 49ers’ commit, leads the team with 302 yards rushing and five touchdowns (also 75 yards receiving and another score) and is like a “security blanket,” according to Cheek and Hales.
Cheek is getting comfortable with multiple receivers from Clifton Duck to Dirk Cureton to C.J. Johnson to D.J. Little.
Like Cheek, the Butler offensive line is also growing up. That line includes center, Cam Taylor (6-1, 285), junior guards, Devin Smith (5-9, 250) and Conner Reed (5-8, 210), junior tackle, Kedron Smith (5-10, 295, Devin’s brother) and senior tackle, Alex Masone (6-2, 230) as well as classmate, guard J.T. King (6-0, 240).
Another key to Cheek’s success is his dedication to film study. Cheek says he usually watches at least five additional hours of film (in addition to team film studies) on upcoming opponents or past Butler teams.
Cheek said he is eager to help the 2015 Butler team prove it can have same type of success the Bulldogs have had in the recent past with 4A state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
“The No. 1 goal at Butler every year is to win the state championship and that hasn’t changed,” Cheek said. “We think about that goal every day, but we also know we are going to have to earn it. We can’t be the 2009 or 2010 or 2012 team. We have to go out and work and get it for this team. We all try to have a championship attitude in everything we do, whether it’s a practice, game or workout.”
Cheek also is focused on his future and is starting to get college recruiting attention.
This summer, he attended camps and clinics from Davidson to East Carolina to Florida State to Florida Atlantic to Florida International to Miami.
“Playing college football is something I’ve dreamed of since I was four years old watching Peyton Manning,” said Cheek. “I hope to have the opportunity to play college football. But for now, my focus is at Butler and doing my job here.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.