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Monday, October 8, 2012
Brian Kelley of FGL had played baseball

By Lynn Hoppes



When Tyler Hubbard was walking around campus at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., a couple of years ago and saw Brian Kelley, he thought one thing:

"He was just some baseball guy. He was one of those cool kids wearing cleats and a baseball cap all the time."

But things changed when Hubbard showed up at church and heard Kelley -- who had played baseball for Belmont and previously Florida State -- leading a worship with his guitar.

"I really liked what he had going on at the time, so we decided to write songs together," Hubbard said. "We moved in with each other and we started playing music. We've been building our fan base and heading out on the road, giving it a shot."

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelley played for FSU before becoming a country singer.
On Wednesday, the 2-year-old duo called Florida Georgia Line (or FGL for short) is heading to New York to play a sold-out CMT show opening for Jake Owen at the Best Buy Theater. Their hit, "Cruise," climbed the country charts this year and was certified gold in Canada.

"It's been a crazy couple of years," Kelley said.

Kelley, who is from Ormond Beach, Fla., went to Tallahasee on a baseball scholarship but didn't get much playing time with the Seminoles. During his off time, he played guitar at the First Baptist Church in downtown Tallahassee.

"It was a fantastic experience living up there and I'd do it all over again," Kelley said. "I made a lot of friends and even though it was a hard time on the baseball field, it made me a stronger person."

Kelley moved back home to attend Daytona State College. He didn't want to give up baseball or music.

"I realized I had two years left of eligibility and I wanted to play baseball at the same time as playing my guitar," Kelley said. "So I went to Belmont. I didn't realize it was going to be a life-changing moment when I met Tyler."

Hubbard grew up in Monroe, Ga., and wanted to move out of the state and focus on music, so that's why he went to Belmont.

"Nashville seemed like the right place for me," Hubbard said. "I had an interest in studying music so I got a business degree. I had no idea where I'd be today. It has been cool."

The young duo signed a record deal in December and this year has toured with Colt Ford, Brantley Gilbert and Dierks Bentley. Their music is a mix of country, rock and hip-hop.

"We love touching people with our music on all aspects," Kelley said. "We love making somebody smile, laugh or cry. We want you to bob your head and know it's from our heart."

Kelley said he still misses baseball, but that dream has passed.

"Tyler will tell you. Sometimes I put my arm in a pitching motion when the weather feels good," Kelley said. "Baseball will always be a part of who I am. Baseball had its chance but it didn't work out. It's time to turn the page and focus on this new chapter."