Baldwin, MI (WZZM) - Former Grand Valley State University star Quarterback Cullen Finnerty is missing in the woods of Lake County, and in his last phone call to family, they say it seemed like he was afraid.
"He phoned his wife and explained he was afraid," confirms Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts. "He left his equipment and ran off into the woods."
Finnerty was fishing alone Sunday on the Baldwin River northeast of Baldwin. His family owns a cabin near Bray State Forest. Police say he called his wife and in-laws to come and pick him up. When they got there they found his small pontoon boat but he was gone.
"We found a fishing pole and that's all," says Lake County Undersheriff Dennis Robinson. "No waders and no fishing equipment."
Police have used a helicopter and search teams to look for Finnerty.
"We've walked the shore of the river and had people in the water checking brush piles and logs," says Undersheriff Robinson.
Finnerty led Grand Valley to three national championships, including back to back titles in 2005 and 2006.
Current head coach Matt Mitchell was an assistant then. He says Finnerty was a fierce competitor.
"But also a great teammate. Great with his peers."
Coach Mitchell says Finnerty was back on campus for a football game last fall.
"He's been doing great," he says.
Police say the family has no explanation for Finnerty's disappearance.
"I talked to his wife and dad and they said there are no domestic problems, nothing in the past to lead us to believe they had an argument and he left," says Undersheriff Robinson.
Finnerty had some opportunities in the National Football League with the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. He is now 30.
Coach Mitchell says he was expecting to see Finnerty and his family at the annual Grand Valley Alumni Golf Outing June 21 and 22.
"He's got two young children. His wife is a former marketing intern here with the Grand Valley Athletic Department. I can only imagine how traumatic this has got to be for his family."