Ray Fulcher Had a Good Thing Going as a Songwriter for Luke Combs — but This Georgia Native Wanted More

"This song literally does everything that I want to do, both as an artist and as a songwriter," Ray Fulcher says of "Girl In It" as the music video premieres on PEOPLE

Ray Fulcher wanted to be a major league baseball player. So to make that happen, he worked hard and paid his dues and dreamed of a day when he would run onto the field to the applause of the fans and take his spot. And once at his designated position, he would play his heart out.

Ray Fulcher never became a major league baseball player. But he did just go and make his performance debut on the Grand Ole Opry.

"It was almost like running out on the field for the first time," he tells PEOPLE in a recent interview about his Grand Ole Opry performance back in June that had him in tears before the conclusion of his impressive set. "That's the only thing I could compare it to. For that crowd — who probably had never even heard of me before that night — to give me a standing ovation ... I couldn't have dreamed it up any cooler than that."

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Ray Fulcher. Rachel Deeb

It's a stage the Georgia native first stood on over 15 years ago, when Fulcher was serving on the staff of the University of Georgia football team and assuming he would end up making a career out of coaching, or teaching, or maybe even selling cars. Yet, his love for country music could be seen on the face of that tourist with the guitar swung around his shoulder, who ended the tour of the legendary venue with a photo op.

But that photo op was the beginning of so much more.

"That guy was a guy that loved history and loved country music a lot," Fulcher remembers, referring to the faded pic he shared on his Instagram feed earlier this summer. "That guy was the guy who also was just getting into songwriting and all the stuff that comes with that. I mean, I didn't even know how to play more than one chord on that guitar I was holding at the time."

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Ray Fulcher. Rachel Deeb

Fulcher, 36, has certainly come a long way since then, now standing proud as one of country music's preeminent songwriters on Luke Combs chart-toppers such as "When It Rains It Pours," "Even Though I'm Leaving," "Lovin' on You" and "Does to Me." But now, with 30+ million artist streams and three billion streams as a songwriter already under his belt, Fulcher is now increasingly looking like country music's next solo hitmaker, courtesy of his genuine delivery on songs such as his current single "Girl In It."

"This song literally does everything that I want to do, both as an artist and as a songwriter," says Fulcher of the song he co-wrote alongside Erik Dylan and James McNair. "It's about taking a simple title and making it mean many different things to so many different people. And while it resonates with people, you can also sing the chorus and not think about it a whole lot."

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Ray Fulcher films "Girl in It". Black River Entertainment

But now accompanying the song is a moving music video that touches on life's little coincidences and life's big heartbreaks, along with the way life often plays out in a way you never saw coming.

"The video puts a whole other layer onto the song," Fulcher says of the music video —premiering exclusively on PEOPLE — that features Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Jerry Foster playing the role of a man looking back on his life and the truck that was by his side through it all. "This is like the story after the song kind of thing."

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Ray Fulcher films "Girl In It". Black River Entertainment

Of course, while Fulcher's story looks to be just beginning, it's a story that has been in the works for quite a long time.

"I was actually just talking to someone this morning about the words manifest and manifestation," Fulcher admits. "I think what it really means is trying to do all the right things and believing that good things will happen. And they are now happening, that's for sure."

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