The singer has charted hits including "I Love You This Big," "The Trouble with Girls," and "Water Tower Town." He's also won several awards, including the American Country Awards Best New Artist and the CMT Music Awards' Breakthrough Video of the Year" for "The Trouble with Girls."
Last year, he opened for Brad Paisley on the Glen Dale native's tour, and now he's headlining his own "Weekend Roadtrip" tour.
McCreery is studying communications because he wants to understand the other side of the media he's part of. Going to college may sound like he is hedging his bets, making sure he has something to fall back on if the country stardom thing doesn't really work out. It's not.
"It's not a backup plan," he said, flatly. "I'm here because I believe in lifelong learning and because I wanted to have the college experience."
He acknowledged his situation is far from perfect. Having to do shows on the weekend, he doesn't get the full effect of college life. He misses out on a lot of weekend activities, and what about his plans for spring break?
"I think I'm working," he said and laughed. "Maybe I'll get to that somewhere on down the road."
But maybe not. Sacrifices have to be made on both sides of his life in order for him to pull off both.
"It's just one of those thing that comes with maintaining that balance."
Still, McCreery didn't feel like he was missing out on much, though he has less time for some things, including "American Idol."
"I still follow the show," he said. "But I don't watch it quite as religiously as I did."
He knows he's associated with the program. Aspiring singers often come up to him to ask about what they can do to do what he did: win the show.
"I don't have any secret," he said. "The thing I tell everybody is to just be unique. The judges hear thousands of singers, so you have to stand out. You've got to sing something cool."
Aside from trying to fit in time to do his homework, McCreery thought the hardest part of this life was finding time to be with his family. When possible, he brings them out on the road with him.
"My dad is out with me now. My mom and sister might be out with me next week," he said.
Sometimes they pitch in to help wherever they can.
"Everybody is helping," he said. "They want to, but it's not like they're looking to get a whole lot out of it.
"It's just family time, you know?"
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.