Like most young soccer players growing up in North Carolina, Chase Rice had his sights set on the NFL.

Subsequently the linebacker who tore up the ACC at 2006 tore up his left ankle in the season opener as a junior. Though he returned in 2007, Rice already knew pro football participant was not going to be on his resume.

Country music star are.

But when draft time tactics, Rice recalls those days on the area, and his hopes of attaining soccer’s highest degree.

“I felt headed in that direction,” Rice says. “My (2006) year I had been the only player who did not come off the area, I could play indoors and outside, and it was looking great. Then I just have a quarter and a half in my junior season, which would have been my year and hopefully we were headed for the top of the ACC.

“The following year that the ankle was not the same, and I wasn’t the same player.”

During the 2009 draft, five Tar Heels have been selected, such as wide receiver Hakeem Nicks into the Giants in the first round. Nicks won a Super Bowl for the 2011 season with New York. Tight end Richard Quinn and wideout Brandon Tate went in the second round; handle Garrett Reynolds, one of Rice’s closest friends now, was selected in Round 5, as was recipient Brooks Foster.

“I had been up there enjoying with the caliber of football those men were and that’s the reason I can say I believe I had been up there for drafted had never been injured,” Rice says. “Obviously, you have got to get from the games and show up and get your own experience. I felt I was right up with these men and certainly do believe I had the chance. It didn’t work out that way.”

It worked out pretty well for Rice in a different subject of entertainment. Talkin’ God. Amen.”

On his own, Rice has two top five hits and a double-platinum No. 1 at”Eyes On You.”

Some of his tunes reflect on his days as an athlete, particularly”Beats A Million Bucks” and”Carolina Can,” which has become something of an anthem for not just Tar Heels lovers but the state itself.

Rice hunted out Scooter Carusoe, who’d written several hit songs, for”Carolina Can.”

“I knew of him living in Carolina, and’Anything But Mine’ (movie ) would pop up on TV,” Rice says of the Kenny Chesney megahit. “I dreamed of writing with Scooter. This was the very first time I had ever written that I wanted to compose a song about going home, a place quite unique. He understands a lot about Chapel Hill and Asheville, and we started talking about my history with Carolina. But we didn’t actually have a hook. As we’re driving to lunch, he looks at me with this smile and just says:’When I need someone to remind me who I am, Carolina Can.’

“It was written in another then; we had a purpose of why we write. It’s among my favorites of all time… I have seen boats named then, and people scream it at the concert. I played with the Azalea Festival in Wilmington and didn’t need to sing 1 word. I will play in Washington state and they are all singing it. Everybody can relate to it. Every area has their own story.”

The story for all musical artists during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the same — attempting to receive their workout to lovers while not having the ability to play live concerts. Along with headlining his own tours, Rice has opened for Garth Brooks and Chesney — at NFL venues. After performing at a gala to get Super Bowl champion coach Bruce Arians’ foundation celebrity golf classic on Sunday, Rice can’t wait to get back to the street.

“On a football field it is different as you’re running out with your team,” Rice says. “My band and crew are my group, but always there’s that moment I’m by myself until I walk onstage. It’s an amazing atmosphere, but it can also be lonely. When you are standing on your own, it shows the definitive difference of working using a team and running out by yourself. And it’s very intense.

“I was telling one of my friends in 2017 it broke my heart I never got a opportunity to play at the NFL,” Rice recalls,”and he did not say anything and I had been expecting a response. And he goes,’Can not you just tell me you played with Kenny Chesney at Lucas Oil Stadium? Is that not a NFL stadium?