It was apparent even when he was just a teenager that Anthony McClanahan had what it took to make it into pro football.

He had the genetics (his father starred for the Minnesota Vikings), the drive (he was a fitness nut, "ripped" with muscle), the showmanship (he dyed his black hair flamboyantly blond) and the athletic upbringing (he played for Bakersfield High School's undefeated 1988 team, considered one of the greatest in school history).

"He looked the part," said Justin Peppars, a childhood friend who grew up across the street from McClanahan. "It always seemed like he would be on TV."

McClanahan spent time with the Dallas Cowboys but never played in an NFL game, though he did move north and win a Canadian Football League Grey Cup title as a linebacker for the Calgary Stampeders.

More than two decades later, he's back in the news — not for his sports prowess but as the prime suspect in his wife's killing. 

Park City, Utah, police on Friday named the 46-year-old Bakersfield native as a suspect in the death of his 28-year-old wife, Keri "KC" McClanahan. She suffered knife wounds to her throat.

McClanahan is being held without bail in connection with a separate case, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.  

Currently, he's charged with kidnapping after taking his 8-year-old son from Arizona on Oct. 3 without the mother's permission. The child is from a previous relationship, according to reports. 

Keri McClanahan's sister, Heather Gauf, told the Tribune there was a history of domestic abuse between the couple, who were married in January and lived in Arizona. Gauf said her sister had recently gone to Utah to get away from her husband. 

Police found Keri McClanahan’s body after someone flagged down a patrol sergeant for help, according to the Tribune. Someone from the hotel called police shortly after the officer was flagged down. 

Peppars, who previously went by the last name of Roberts, said he hadn't seen McClanahan in person for years but had fitful contact with him on social media. He said he had noticed a change in McClanahan's online postings over the past eight to 10 months.

Instead of focusing on his fitness and diet routines, as was typical, McClanahan began posting about everything from global warming to working for the Department of Homeland Security, Peppars said. 

While he couldn't have foreseen an allegation of murder against McClanahan, he said Friday's news didn't entirely surprise him, either.

"His erratic behavior disturbed me to the point where I wondered if someone was going to get hurt," Peppars said.

One particularly troubling post, Peppars said, was a video put up last week that appeared to be taken at a hospital. In it, McClanahan speaks about some of the troubles he's had resulting from playing football.

"I don't know if it was a plea for help or a calculated thing," Peppars said.

The post, which has since been deleted, features McClanahan in a hospital bed talking about how his mental and physical health has suffered since experiencing what he claims were dozens of concussions incurred during his playing days, according to the Calgary Sun. 

“I work nonstop because I’m scared to go to sleep at night, because when I go to sleep, my head hurts — and I feel like I wanna attack another quarterback,” the Calgary Sun reported he said in the video.

“Before I leave this earth, I will let you know more about my life,” he said. “Because of how my health is right now, I can’t take care of my son physically, and I’ll need people to take care of me.”

Pat Preston, head coach at BHS when McClanahan played, said he was shocked to hear of the allegations.

"Anthony, in high school, when I was around him, was a pretty easygoing type of kid, a very coachable kid," Preston said. 

McClanahan played linebacker for the Drillers but was also sometimes brought in as a running back on offense because of his blocking abilities and physicality, Preston said. 

McClanahan, who also starred at Washington State University, played with the CFL's Stampeders from 1995-98 after his stint with the Cowboys. 

During those years, wrote Calgary Sun reporter Eric Francis, nothing McClanahan did surprised him.

"In almost a quarter-century of covering sports, I never met an athlete so driven to be in the spotlight, no matter what the reason," Francis wrote.

The reporter recalled when McClanahan, injured at the time, watched a Stampeders game from a hot tub on the sideline, where he was joined by several women. Another time, he brought several ducks he'd shot on a hunting expedition into the Stampeders locker room to display them.

"Priding himself on being the self-proclaimed Dennis Rodman of the CFL," Francis wrote, "he took to dying his hair a different color every week and backing it up with outrageous statements and animated celebrations on field."

While growing up, McClanahan was so into fitness and working out he didn't give much time to other people, Peppars said. But his online posts appeared to show a different, more caring side.

His Facebook page is filled with requests asking for help with donations of water and other goods for Puerto Rico, Texas and wildfire-ravaged areas of Northern California. Fitness and health — McClanahan listed himself as a "sports performance consultant" — also featured heavily.

"I feel like a part of him wanted to do well and meant well," Peppars said.

But this sort of trouble?

"I could not foresee that."

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