"I was really lucky to be around a lot of great men, strong leaders who encouraged me to continue to be a leader and to carry a lot of those principles into life after football."

By Scott T. Sterling

When it comes to musicians with actual real-life experience in the world of sports, country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt definitely ranks somewhere near the top of the list.

During his college years, Hunt was a starting quarterback, first for Middle Tennessee State University, where he played for two years, followed by another two years taking snaps for University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) after transferring schools.

“That was four or five of the greatest years in my life experience,” Hunt reveals during an interview with Radio.com. “Competition at that high level, being able to fight for a starting job during those years and go through all those workouts, and be around all of those positive role models, those influencers that are in college football. There’s a lot of integrity that runs through the coaching world in college football. I was really lucky to be around a lot of great men, strong leaders who encouraged me to continue to be a leader and to carry a lot of those principles into life after football.”

Related: New Music to Know: Sam Hunt Combines His Love for Usher and Steve Earle on Debut ‘Montevallo’

Hunt’s songwriting chops enabled him to work with some of country music’s biggest names, helping to craft hits for the likes of Kenny Chesney (“Come Over”) and Billy Currington (“We Are Tonight”) before dropping his recently released debut album, Montevallo.

“It influenced my passion and the competitive nature that drove me,” Hunt explains when asked how his sports experience affected his  jump into making music after a brief stint with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs didn’t quite pan out. “Not necessarily against anybody else, but against the standard that I set for myself when I first moved to (Nashville).”

Watch the full video interview above for more of Hunt’s musings on music and sports, including which of his own tracks would make for the best athlete walk-on song and the sports stars who would fill out his fantasy band.

Hunt is currently on the Lipstick Graffiti tour in support of Montevallo, with dates booked well into next year, including appearances at the Winstock Country Music Festival (June 12-13) and Country Jam USA in July. Fans in Springfield, IL, can spend the upcoming New Year’s Eve with him when he headlines a show at Boondocks. See Sam Hunt’s complete tour itinerary here.