Charles McClain is short, but not on talent.
The New Orleans VooDoo receiver has made an impact on offense during his first two games of the season, catching 15 passes for 217 yards and five touchdowns. This effort includes a 26-yard score during the final minute of a June 12 home loss to the Cleveland Gladiators.
“We saw a hole in the defense, the jack (linebacker) wasn’t moving as much,” said McClain, who is listed at 5-foot-7. “We just got a little over route and instead of traditionally turning out, I reversed out and made the guy miss.”
He hopes to repeat the effort Saturday night as the VooDoo (2-10) travel to the Orlando Predators (7-6).
While McClain is just two games into his first Arena Football League experience, he mastered VooDoo coach Dean Cokinos’ offense with the Alabama Hammers of the Professional Indoor Football League. Together, he helped Alabama win the 2013 title.
Now, injuries to the VooDoo at receiver allowed Cokinos to send for McClain. So far, so good.
“He’s brought energy, physical play and a great understanding of the game,” said VooDoo quarterback Adam Kennedy. “I’m excited about playing with him going forward.”
The VooDoo offense needs all the help it can get. The team ranks 11th out of 12 AFL teams in scoring offense (40.6 points per game). If there is an offensive bright spot: the VooDoo rank second in the league in red zone offense with 34 scores on 40 attempts (30 TDs, four field goals).
Compared to other AFL offenses, the VooDoo employ smaller receivers, with just two active receivers 6-0 or taller. At times, it hurts the VooDoo; when over teams utilize corner routes or can bully their way to find open space, McClain and others have to work a little harder.
But he’s accustomed to doing so.
“We’re smaller guys, we’re shorter guys, but we feel like we play like we’re 6-5,” he said. “Any time the ball is in the air, we feel like it’s our ball, and that’s how we play the game.
This season, the VooDoo have posted 13 100-yard receiving games. In two games, McClain has posted the most yards in a game (144).
McClain is motivated by the many years he wasn’t considered big enough, strong enough. Now, he wants to pass on his confidence to kids that might be in his former situation.
“There always could be a little kid watching that could see me play and be encouraged. If the VooDoo need a big play from a little guy, I feel I can make that play.”