February 15, 2016 at 07:06 PM EST

Tucker Beathard grew up around hits. His father, Music City songwriter Casey Beathard, has penned Top 10 songs for the likes of Kenny Chesney and Eric Church — but or a while, the 21-year-old thought he’d follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and brothers and pursue sports. (His grandfather is Bobby Beathard, longtime NFL general manager.)

“I was committed to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University,” the singer tells EW. “I played sports my whole life, basically.” An injury during his senior year, playing football, helped him change course. “I tore my shoulder and it took me a while to bounce back,” he says. “I had a lot of time to reflect — I realized I’d be a lot happier doing what I love. So I called the coach the day before I was supposed to report and said, ‘I’m not coming.'”

He began work on his craft, and got a leg up by studying his father’s hard work. “I heard all of his demos growing up — and I was a fan of all the stuff he was doing. So I learned the structure of the country format from him.” And while the format may be from dad, the content is all his own. “My favorite stuff to write is the deeper, weirder stuff; music that you can interpret in your own way. My bottom line is wanting to write songs that mean something and have real emotions.”

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“Rock On,” which he wrote with his father and Marla Cannon-Goodman, shipped to radio Monday and is streaming below. A full length project is currently in the works. This summer the singer will tour in support of format superstar Dierks Bentley. A list of dates are available on his website.

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