Luke Combs earned his first ACM Entertainer of the Year nomination in 2020, and, frankly, he's a little bit intimidated to be mentioned in the same breath as Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood.

"To be in the conversation with people that just a short number of years ago, I was like, 'It's such an unattainable level to me,'" Combs reflected before Wednesday night's (Sept. 16) awards show. "You know, to be there with Carrie Underwood and Eric Church and people of that caliber is just — I don't put myself in that category."

It was Church, in fact, who inspired Combs to work toward a career in country music. Both are former Appalachian State University students, and Combs can remember seeing Church perform at the school during his own freshman year.

"It really changed my outlook and changed a lot of things for me about country music. I was just a fan for three years, and when I decided to pick the guitar up, I said, 'If this guy went to college here and can be on stage at the CMAs and winning CMA Awards and No. 1 songs, I don't see why I can't do it,'" Combs shared in 2018, after winning New Artist of the Year at the CMA Awards. "He really inspired me to have a tunnel vision approach to what I wanted to do. I'm very lucky to have run into his music, because I really don't think that I would be here without it."

Combs admits that he still thinks of himself as that new-to-Nashville guy. "So, I'm just excited to be there; I'm just excited to be in the conversation, I guess," he says.

"It's a dream come true in a lot of ways, and very unexpected in a lot of ways," he adds.

At the 2020 ACM Awards, Combs is also nominated for Male Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. He'll be performing his song "Better Together" from the Bluebird Cafe, one of three venues being used for this year's show.

The 2020 ACM Awards are scheduled to begin on CBS at 8PM ET. Reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban will host from the Grand Ole Opry House, and performances will also take place at the Ryman Auditorium. It's the show's first time taking place in Nashville.

The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about winners, fashion and moments at the 2020 ACM Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest CMAs headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.

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