'The Bachelor': Meet the Man Many Believe Is the Next Franchise Lead

© Facebook / The Bachelorette

Michelle Young‘s season of The Bachelorette has yet to air, but speculation that one of her exes is the next Bachelor is already swirling!

On Wednesday, reports surfaced that Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old orthopedic sales rep from Eureka, Missouri, was cast as the next franchise lead after his yet-to-be-aired exit on Michelle’s season of The Bachelorette

ET has reached out to ABC and Warner Bros. for comment.

The speculation began after E! published photos of a man that resembled Clayton filming what appeared to be a promo shoot for The Bachelor outside of a house in his native Missouri.

Clayton is the only one of Michelle’s previously announced potential suitors that hails from Missouri.

Following E!‘s pics, Us Weekly confirmed Clayton’s casting. Additionally, multiple sources told Variety that Clayton has been cast as the next Bachelor.

The outlet claimed that producers fell in love with Clayton amid filming for Michelle’s season, after Katie Thurston‘s ex, Greg Grippo, as well as current Bachelor in Paradise contestants, were taken off the short list.

Sources told Us Weekly that Tyler Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown‘s season, was also in the running. Page Six reported that Andrew Spencer and Michael Allio, both of whom appeared on Katie’s season, were likewise considered.

A source told Page Six that Clayton “impressed everyone on set and is definitely a big upgrade from any of Katie’s guys.”

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Clayton Echard.

He Played College Football — and Tried Out for the NFL

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Clayton attended the University of Missouri, during which time he played 37 games for the school’s Division I football team, most of the time as a tight end. In 2016, Clayton beat out four other tight ends on a tryout basis with the Seattle Seahawks, before signing on as a free agent. While he didn’t end up making the team, Clayton did play in four preseason games.

He’s Pursuing His MBA

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Clayton earned a 3.6 GPA while in his undergrad program, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health professions and related clinical sciences. He additionally minored in both business and Spanish. He opted to continue his education this year, when he entered an online master’s program at Southeast Missouri State University. He expects to graduate in 2023 with a MBA in healthcare administration and management.

He Works in Orthopedic Sales

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Clayton has been a sales representative at Stryker Orthopaedics, a medical device sales company, since 2018. He began working for the company in 2016 as a sales associate. In his current role, Clayton is responsible for sustaining consistent growth in both the Joint Reconstructive and Trauma fields in the Columbia, Missouri, area. He plans to continue working in the industry, which he considers both “challenging” and “rewarding.”

He Has Lots of Hobbies

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When he’s not working or studying, Clayton enjoys working out, hiking and biking. He’s also learning to cook healthy meals, and makes it a point to practice his Spanish skills. He hopes to one day become fluent. Additionally, Clayton listed the causes he cares about as animal welfare, civil rights and social action, economic empowerment, education, environment, health, human rights, poverty alleviation, science and technology, and social services

He’s Close to His Family

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Much of Clayton’s Instagram is filled with pics of his parents and his two brothers, Nate and Patrick. The family appears to be a close one; Clayton’s shared photos of him and his brothers at the beach, out to eat, hiking and more. He and his brothers previously celebrated their mom’s birthday by going axe throwing, and their dad’s special day with a homemade cake.

Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette will premiere Oct. 19. The Bachelor typically airs in January, though an official premiere date has yet to be announced. Bachelor in Paradise is currently airing Tuesdays on ABC.

RELATED CONTENT:

Lance Bass Says Becoming the Permanent ‘Bachelor’ Host Would Be a Dream

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