While attending KIIS FM's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball in Inglewood, CA, Michelle said she's "excited" to see Clayton as The Bachelor franchise's next leading man for Season 26, which premieres Monday, January 3, 2022 on ABC, People reported.
"I mean, he was always just so kind," Michelle, 28, told People on Friday of the interactions she had with Clayton while filming The Bachelorette's eighteenth season.
Michelle added how the 28-year-old medical sales representative and former pro football player from Columbia, MO, was "always" focused on "self-growth and working on himself" throughout her season.
Although Clayton and Michelle formed a connection and her fifth-grade students selected him as the best choice amongst her suitors, Michelle eliminated the buff bachelor when selecting her Final 4 suitors for hometown dates.
"He was in this, like, constant state of reflection," Michelle recalled of Clayton.
"And in our conversations, it was just really cool to see him kind of reflect and open up and then move forward and just, you know, and so the fact that he gets this opportunity to find his person."
"And I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey, but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than I thought. I'm just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well."
Meanwhile, Michelle also apparently found love, as she told People that she feels she had made "the right decision" at the end of her season and is happy with her experience overall and where she's at right now.
Following his The Bachelorette ouster, Clayton cried about how he wants a wife, kids and a family "more than anything" and he'd do whatever it takes to make that dream come true.
Clayton, seemingly chosen as The Bachelor star for his genuine desire to find The One, said on GMA, "I still get chills hearing [I'm the new Bachelor]. It doesn't feel real at times, but I was so incredibly honored and just humbled to have had the experience."
Clayton said it's crucial to "step out of one's comfort zone" and that he was "really challenged" as an individual while filming the show.
In a press release that announced Clayton's The Bachelor participation, ABC boasted about Clayton's "rugged good looks and Viking-level athleticism," adding, "He is a puppy-loving goofball with a heart of gold (and surprisingly good dance moves) who is ready to find the love of his life."
"I will say he was one of my favorite from Michelle's season because he was really emotionally available and secure in that," Kaitlyn said. "I think he would be really good as the Bachelor."
And 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.
Former The Bachelor star and NFL player Jesse Palmer will serve as the host of Clayton's season following Chris Harrison's permanent departure from the franchise earlier this year.
Michelle ultimately eliminated Clayton from her lineup of bachelors because although he had been vulnerable, she said "something was missing" in their relationship.
"You have checked every single box of all the qualities I'm looking for in somebody," Michelle told Clayton. "But I know that giving out this rose means I'm ready to meet your family, and I don't feel that I'm able to get there with you in time."
Michelle assured Clayton that he's "enough," but he was left wondering where he went wrong.
"Everything seemed to be going well and then all of a sudden it stopped, and that sucks," Clayton said in his final words.
"I'm completely vulnerable and this is what happens... I open myself up to be hurt. I stayed closed off for so long because it takes the right person to make me feel comfortable opening up, and Michelle did that."
Clayton graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Health Science from the University of Missouri, where he also minored in Business and Spanish.
Clayton was a walk-on player and scholarship recipient for the University of Missouri football team, and he went on to have a brief stint with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
Clayton is now embarking on his MBA with the intention of starting his own business, and his ABC bio for The Bachelorette revealed that he'd like to own and operate multiple gyms one day.
Clayton enjoys spending time at his family home on Lake St. Louis -- tubing, boating, fishing, and playing cornhole with friends and his two younger brother.