Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Sam Hunt #3 of the UAB Blazers checks the sidelines for a play during their game against the Georgia Bulldogs on September 16, 2006 (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Football is an American love story, and it seems our love for the game only grows stronger every year. Attendance at stadiums is at an all time high. And as recently pointed out, it’s also the most popular sport to bet on. With football season right around the corner, let’s take a look at 9 country stars who played football before music came calling.

With the big game days away, I thought it would be a kick (pun intended) to take a look at some of country music’s most popular artists who played the game. Some made it far, while others left the game after high school. From boys of fall to men of country. Here are 9 country artists who played football before music came calling.

Country music and sports go together like…well, tequila and lime, or tailgates and Kenny Chesney. Speaking of which, football was a huge part of Kenny’s life growing up. Get the stories behind these superstars athletic endeavors before music. Many times, it was an injury that forced the end of sports. Quite a few of these music-makers consider their sports-ending injuries to be a blessing in disguise. Music careers, although short-lived, certainly outlast athletic careers. And there are far fewer injuries. The only thing these stars have to worry about is slipping on stage and having random things lobbed at them from the audience, like cell phones. I don’t get that at all.

As you will see, below, some of these country stars had serious aspirations of playing football. Some played at high levels in college and beyond. So dig in and see who played the game. Take a look, here, at 9 country stars who played football before music came calling.


  • Sam Hunt

    Sam was serious about football, and was a star on the field…for a while. Hunt reached the highest level on the gridioron, of all these country stars. He took it to the college level, playing quarterback for Middle Tennessee State and then the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In high school, Hunts was name the Co-Offensive player if  the Year. He was also was named to the Georgia Sportswriters Association’s All-State Class AAA first team, and was nominated for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Trophy.

    NCAA Football - UAB vs Georgia - September 16, 2006

    QB Sam Hunt rolls out during the game between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Blazers at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA on September 16, 2006. . (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)


  • Chase Rice

    The “Eyes On You” star had his eyes on a football career for a minute. He played in high school at AC Reynolds High in Ashville, North Carolina. And later, Chase attented the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, he was a linebacker on the football team. An injury left Rice out of the game, but into the music!

    Chase Rice - Football - University of North Carolina Athletics

    Chase Rice (44) Linebacker - 2008 - Senior Season Played in all 13 games * Played primarily in nickel packages and on s...

  • Lee Brice

    Brice grew up tackling music and football in his home state of South Carolina. After graduating high school, he made the Clemson University Tigers football team as a walk-on. And Lee eventually earned a scholarship as a linebacker. Most of his time on the field with Clemson was on special teams, as a long snapper. A career ending arm injury kick started his career in music.

  • Kenny Chesney

    Kenny went from playing high school football to playing football stadiums! According to, the country superstar was the wide reciever for Gibbs High School in Corryton, TN. His passion for the game inspired Kenny to cut the song, and later, direct an ESPN Films documentary about high school football, and based on the song. Just goes to prove, you don’t have to be the biggest player to be the biggest player.

    Kenny Chesney



  • Toby Keith

    Now, here’s a guy who looks like a football player. The 6’3″ country star played the game and then coached it for his son Stelan’s high school team. The late, great Toby Keith played defensive end for Moore High in Moore, OK. He even went as far as playing semi-pro ball for the Oklahoma City Drillers, in the now defunct, United States Football League.

  • Riley Green

    Riley Green was the quarterback for the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks. He was actually playing when the team pulled off the huge upset when his team defeated the Florida State Seminoles.While attending  Jacksonville State, he giged at local bars. Obviously his love for music outweighed the game of football.

  • Trace Adkins

    When you’re 6’6″ tall, I’m sure your high school football and basketball teams will be actively encouraging you to play. Trace looks like he was born to play. After Adkins played in high school, he continued his football asperations at Louisiana Tcch, playing for the Tech Bulldogs as a walk-on offensive lineman. He continued to study music, there too. Moral of the story, it’s good to have a back-up plan. A knee injury his freshman year showed Trace his true path.

    Football season is here. This #TBT to Trace’s pigskin days seems like a good way to celebrate.

    Posted by Trace Adkins on Thursday, September 7, 2017
  • Cole Swindell

    The boy from South Georgia was a gifted athlete in high school, who excelled at a variety of sports from golf, to track, baseball, basketball, and of course, football. It was in college, at Georgia Southern University, where Cole found his career path, after meeting Luke Bryan there. He got the music bug and never looked backfield.

  • Garth Brooks

    Garth was a 3 sport athlete at Yukon High School in Yukon, Oklahoma. There, he played football, baseball and track. He excelled in football, but it was track and field that earned Garth a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma where he competed in javelin for the Sooners. The country mega-star was thrilled to finally play his first shows at Gillette Stadium last year.



    Garth and Patriots hat

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