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"Most of what I needed to know in life," declares Brian McComas, "I learned in the Bible or on the football field."

From the Bible, Brian learned to do unto others as they would do unto you and love thy neighbor. And his years playing high school football -- Brian was such a committed player, he once hid a broken collarbone from his coach so he could keep playing -- taught him something else.

"You don't always have to be the fastest to get your chance to play," he explains between sips of hot tea at Ted's Montana Grill in Nashville. "If you surround yourself with people who have the same desires and dreams you do, you can achieve. And you never, ever stop working."

Brian took those lessons to heart when he began his singing career. The Harrison, Ark., native came to Nashville nine years ago, got a record deal nearly four years ago and began recording his self-titled debut album over two years ago -- even as he and wife Shelly raised their three children.

"It's like the Alan Jackson song, 'Chasin' That Neon Rainbow," says Brian, suddenly breaking into song. "I made it up to Music Row/Lordy, don't the wheels turn slow. But what can you do? Grin and bear it, and hope that you get your shot."

Brian got his shot when his third try at a hit, "99.9% Sure (I've Never Been Here Before)," cracked the Top 10. "It's just the coolest!" he smiles. "I never wanted to get my hopes up, but for the last few weeks, I've been excited."

Now Brian has taken that excitement on the road, where he's joining Rascal Flatts and Chris Cagle on tour through December. He's also been talking to Tennessee junior high and high school students as part of "110% Curriculum," a program that helps teens decide what to do with their lives.

"When I was in high school, I could have gone either way," he says. "I could've gotten in a whole lot of trouble, or done something with my energy. That's when I started writing, fell in love with music and decided to pursue it."

Now that his passion has finally landed him a hit, he couldn't be happier.

"Maybe I should sign an autograph for myself: 'From Brian, to Brian,' " he laughs. "'You've worked hard for a long time, brother -- enjoy this moment!' "

-- Chris Neal