Carlese Franklin displays all-around ability for VooDoo _lowres

Advocate staff photo by A.J. SISCO -- Mount Carmel pitcher Shelby Wickersham will be a key figure as the Cubs go into the state softball playoffs as a No. 2 seed in Class 5A.

Former McNeese State standout Carlese Franklin is coming off a Saturday night performance that mirrored Arena Football League ironmen of the past.

During a 47-42 loss to Orlando, Franklin caught nine passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns. He also played defensive back, helping the New Orleans VooDoo curtail quarterback Randy Hippeard. Also on defense, he stepped in at jack linebacker, one of the most important roles in the AFL. On special teams, he averaged 20.2 yards on five kickoff returns.

Not a bad outing for a guy whose roster spot was in jeopardy this spring at training camp.

“I just feel like I’m an athlete, so wherever coach (Dean Cokinos) needs me to play, I can play it,” said Franklin, a Kentwood native who was a four-time All-Southland Conference performer at McNeese State. He also earned All-Louisiana honors.

“That’s just coming from a small (high) school, playing every position.”

On Friday, the VooDoo (1-2) play at the Tampa Bay Storm (1-2).

Franklin is in his second tenure with the VooDoo.

He played with the Tulsa Talons (2010) before arriving in New Orleans for the 2011 season and the following year, split time with the VooDoo and Cleveland Gladiators. He left Cleveland after the 2013 season to return to the VooDoo.

Last season, Franklin appeared in 10 games, finishing with 20 catches for 248 yards and two TDs.

He played on both sides of the Arena Football League line of scrimmage in the past but did not know how much Cokinos knew about his abilities.

He’s found out, becoming a regular in every aspect of the game.

“When a receiver plays DB, you pretty much know what a receiver is going to do (and vice versa),” Franklin said.

“You just go off of yet.

With coach believing in me and trusting in me, I go out there and don’t want to disappoint him.”

Duvalt credits Kennedy

VooDoo receiver Chris Duvalt (21 receptions for 242 yards), back from an ACL knee tear, which hampered him the past two seasons, has caught a career-high six TDs, a feat he credits in part to improve trust with quarterback Adam Kennedy.

“If you build that trust, he’s going to take more chances, more risks with you,” Duvalt said.

Including, hang in the pocket longer, risking more hits for the chance of another big play.

Three games into the season, Duvalt, who played college football at Illinois (2006-09), has already bested his AFL season bests in catches and TDs. He’s also 8 yards away from setting his mark in receiving yards in a season.

DL Miller released

Within days of signing nose guard Jordan Miller, a three-year NFL veteran, the VooDoo have released former Southern University football player.

Miller has spent time with the NFL’s Jacksonville, Green Bay and Chicago Bears franchises.

Special teams scrutiny

Special teams are expected to be a big part of the VooDoo’s preparation this week, coming off a Saturday performance when Orlando’s Brandon Thompkins scored on returns of 51 and 52 yards — the second off a missed field goal.