American Idol auditions are off to the races, and as always, Luke Bryan's got a soft spot for the contestants pursuing country music.

18-year-old HVAC technician Colin Stough didn't have to tell the judges that he was from the rural South when he walked out to audition for this season of the reality singing show: His roots were obvious from the second he opened his mouth to say hello. After they heard his thick Mississippi drawl, judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie immediately turned towards their resident country expert, and Bryan beamed in response, saying "I got this boy."

Bryan's excitement only grew once Stough started singing, delivering a raw, rugged performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and accompanying himself on an embellished acoustic guitar. Bryan even did a little happy dance as Stough launched into the chorus, celebrating the fact that classic, Southern-rock tinged country music will most definitely be a part of American Idol this season.

"What American Idol is about right there!" Bryan crowed after Stough concluded his audition. But he wasn't playing favorites: Perry and Richie agreed with Bryan's assessment that Stough is something special. "You've got the magic in you," Perry told the young singer.

Before he stepped up to sing, Stough told the judges that it was actually his mom who had signed him up for Idol. When they learned that not only was she there in the building, but she was also a big fan of Bryan's, they had to invite her into the audition room so that the country star could give her a hug.

"Well mama, this is a very important meeting between you and I. We are so thankful that you signed this human being up," Bryan said. "...Colin is exactly what we hope and dream for at American Idol. Somebody that's just raw, real, humble. Thank you so much for signing him up."

Stough earned a Golden Ticket in the audition rounds, meaning that he'll proceed to the next episode of American Idol. His audition performance was released as part of a preview clip before Season 21 premieres; viewers can catch the full episode on Sunday night (Feb. 19) on ABC.

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