On The Bachelorette premiere, viewers watched Clayton gush about Michelle being a teacher, like his own mother, and he handed the Bachelorette a meter stick after his limo entrance to indicate how she would have the power to control him and keep him in line. (He also asked her to spank him with the ruler).
While Clayton didn't receive the First Impression Rose, Michelle chose to keep him around. She gave him a rose at the first Rose Ceremony of the season, making Clayton one of 23 suitors still in the running.
ABC has gushed about Clayton having "great looks, a great job and a wonderful family," but Clayton playfully calls himself a "washed-up athlete" on his Instagram bio.
Clayton, who boasts a similar look to Sean Lowe or Colton Underwood, may have what it takes to win Michelle's attention and affection, but he doesn't appear to be a frontrunner for the Bachelorette just yet.
Until viewers get the chance to watch Clayton and Michelle's connection grow, let's learn some information about this handsome bachelor right now.
Below is a list of 5 facts Reality TV World has compiled about Clayton Echard.
Clayton spent the 2016 NFL pre-season with the Seattle Seahawks after signing as an undrafted rookie following the NFL Draft.
Once his football career ended, Clayton tested his luck with medical sales, and he'd love to own multiple gyms someday.
But for now, the bachelor says the only thing missing in his life is the perfect woman.
Clayton's dream partner is funny, independent, intelligent and athletic enough to join him at the gym for a workout. He wants to find something truly special and says he's willing to put in the hard work to find a love that will last forever.
Clayton has reportedly already been chosen as the next The Bachelor star
Before fans were even introduced to Clayton on The Bachelorette, reports surfaced in September that ABC had cast him as The Bachelor star for Season 26 in 2022.
ABC's alleged casting decision indicates Clayton probably did not receive Michelle's final rose. It's assumed Clayton either got his heart crushed by Michelle on the show or his star-quality and/or storyline made him a natural fit to become the franchise's new leading man.
In mid-September, photos leaked of Clayton appearing to film a promo shoot with a camera crew in his Missouri hometown of Eureka.
Around that same time, The Bachelor creator and executive producer Mike Fleiss also hinted at Clayton's participation and that he was ABC's choice for the show's next star.
Mike tweeted on September 15, "Major Announcement!!! Your new #TheBachelor is a great guy from Michelle's season of #TheBachelorette. Can't wait for you to meet him!"
Mike proceeded to write on Twitter, "Another Major Announcement!!! His first name starts with the letter 'C.' #TheBachelor."
Only three other bachelors on Michelle's season have names that begin with "C" -- Casey Woods, Christopher Gallant, and Chris Sutton.
And a source told Us Weekly last month, "Clayton stood out right off the bat."
"Producers ended up going with him because they believed he was the best fit for the role," the source said.
ABC reportedly also loves the fact Clayton is a fresh face whom America still has to get to know.
"[Producers] wanted to switch things up and go with someone new and someone who hasn't been in the spotlight yet," the source explained. "The mystery makes it more exciting for the prospective contestants."
Clayton told fans he's "excited" about the opportunity to look for his "person" but also "very nervous" at the same time, according to St. Louis' Fox affiliate.
While ABC and Warner Bros. have yet to officially announce that Clayton will follow in Matt James' The Bachelor footsteps, a banner hangs in Eureka that reads, "Go Find Love Clayton," and the town's mayor, Sean Flower, said on Facebook that ABC had purchased the giant sign.
Kaitlyn Bristowe told Extra in mid-October of Clayton, "I will say he was one of my favorite from Michelle's season because he was really emotionally available and secure in that. I think he would be really good as the Bachelor."
And Tayshia also shared with Extra, "I think he'd be a great Bachelor."
Tayshia elaborated, "Clayton was super fun and playful. I feel like when we did see him on a date, he was always having a good time and he always had a smile on his face... He always seemed really sweet."
Michelle has even gushed about Clayton to the press. She told Entertainment Tonight earlier this month that Clayton is "a sweetheart" and definitely someone to keep an eye on this season.