PHILADELPHIA – The Colts close out the preseason in Zaire Franklin’s hometown.

“Any time I get a chance to play at home, obviously, it’s special,” the Colts’ linebacker said after Tuesday’s joint practice with the Eagles. “I have my family here. It’s always good to get the chance to just compete in front of your family.”

Franklin’s Philadelphia family extends far beyond blood relatives.

“Once you’re a Philly boy, you’re always a Philly boy,” said former LaSalle College High School athletic director Joe Parisi. “I think Zaire is the poster child for that.”

At LaSalle College High School, Franklin was a star player. He is still a star there whenever he returns.

“The best thing about seeing him is how he interacts with the current students,” Parisi said. “He’s been through a lot. He has a lot of experience. He doesn’t mind sharing them with the kids and challenging them to try and follow in his footsteps.”

“I would never bet against him in anything,” said LaSalle College High School assistant football coach Joe Leitner. “Anything he puts his mind to, he’s found success at every single level.”

A two-time team captain at LaSalle, Franklin went on to be a three-time captain at Syracuse and is now entering his fourth year as captain with the Colts. His teachers and coaches say those leadership traits were evident very early on in high school.

“It’s his willingness to do the dirty work,” Leitner said. “It’s his willingness to engage with everyone. There’s no one who’s unimportant to the team. There’s no one who he’s above that’s lesser than him.”

“He had the ability to do the right thing all of the time,” recalled Parisi. “He set positive examples for kids.”

“Every time I get the chance to be around those kids, it inspires me as much as I inspire them,” said Franklin.

So now every time Franklin plays inspired, he’s thinking of home and the people of the city that forged him.

The Colts wrap up the preseason Thursday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia at 8:00 p.m.