There are so many unusual things about "American Idol" finalist Scotty McCreery: his signature microphone technique, his preternatural ease onstage and, oh yeah, the fact that's he's both a kick-ass baseball pitcher for his high school team, the Garner Trojans, and one of the key members of Garner Magnet High School's vocal ensemble, Die Meistersingers.
Alec Hulmes, 17, has known McCreery since preschool, and they've lived in the same neighborhood and played baseball together their whole lives. On the eve of Scotty's top-three performance, he told MTV News that ever since they were in elementary school, he remembers McCreery singing Elvis tunes on the bus while doing that "little eye thing." And while they were amused, Hulmes said they often complain, "Dude, Scotty, shut up for one second! Just shut up! Stop singing!"
But since McCreery's epic run on "Idol," things have changed. "Now every time he sings, it's like, 'Go ahead, Scotty, keep going, keep going!' " Hulmes laughed.
The school's "blue crew" started out as a student cheering section for football and basketball games, but over the past few months, it has transformed into an all-Scotty cheering section.
The town of 27,000 just outside Raleigh, North Carolina, has also gotten fully behind their favorite son, with billboards, signs, banners and viewing parties. Garner Magnet High School student Jay Booth, 17, who has known Scotty since freshman year, said that these days, you can't walk 15 feet in town or at their school without seeing some McCreery-boosting paraphernalia. There's a packed-to-the-rafters viewing party in the school gym every Thursday night and announcements throughout the week reminding students to vote for Scotty.
"I think Scotty is a genuinely nice kid, a good Southern boy," Booth said. "He always cares about everyone else and is respectful to others."
Before he was picked for the show, Scotty had talked to his pals about maybe doing "Idol" one day. "We didn't think anything of it, because it seemed like such a farfetched idea," Booth admitted. Once McCreery did try out and made the show, his teammates saw the huge reaction and realized that it could turn into a very big deal.
Yes, there's the fame and the TV love and the potential recording contract. But preschool friend Kyle Tobin, 18, said there's another fringe benefit that would warm the heart of any 17-year-old boy. "He used to joke about not being able to pull women," Tobin said. "But [[article id="1663916"]when he came home last weekend[/article]], all you could hear was women's voices."
He might seem like a quiet, unassuming Southern boy on the show, but Booth said during football and basketball games, Scotty was always the loudest fan, yelling his support for the home team and ripping off his shirt even in cold weather. "He's normally a pretty quiet kid if you don't know him very well," Booth said. "So whenever you see him at a football game screaming at the other team, it's pretty funny."
Considering that he's already heard some original compositions that were "far beyond" Scotty's 17 years, Booth predicted that if his buddy wins (actually, when he wins), McCreery will make a true roots country record that would stick to the style he's fostered on "Idol."
Don't miss "Idol Party Live" every Thursday at noon on MTV.com for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.