The next 'Bachelor' is Clayton Echard: 5 things to know about the former Mizzou football player

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune
Clayton Echard

On Wednesday night, multiple reports surfaced that former Missouri football player Clayton Echard will serve as the next male lead of ABC reality show "The Bachelor."

"The Bachelor" is one of the national network's longest-running series, with Echard serving as male lead No. 26 in franchise history. There have also been 18 female leads on the show's spinoff "The Bachelorette."

The upcoming season of "The Bachelorette" will also feature Echard, as he will be one of the suitors for Michelle Young. By being named the next male lead of the franchise, Echard likely won't end up with Young, but could play a major role in the season.

More:Former University of Missouri football player Clayton Echard is the next star of 'The Bachelor,' reports say

Here are five things you should know about the former Tiger who will soon hand out roses to prospective girlfriends:

Echard had an NFL tryout with the Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks tight end Clayton Echard (85) warms up before a preseason game in 2016.

The Eureka, Missouri, native's football career didn't end in Columbia. After going undrafted in 2016, he signed a free-agent contract with the Seahawks. 

According to his LinkedIn page, Echard beat out four other tight ends on a tryout basis to earn a spot at training camp. 

He played in all four of Seattle's 2016 preseason games and made it past the first round of cuts.

As NFL teams shaved down rosters to 53 active players, Echard was cut.

"It was a unique experience that I was blessed to be a part of," Echard writes on LinkedIn.

Echard's LinkedIn says he works as a medical sales associate

According to Echard's LinkedIn page, he's worked in sales for medical device company Stryker since July 2016. 

His first 18 months with the company were based in St. Louis, but he has been based in the Columbia area since January 2018. 

Echard's responsibilities include sales in "joint reconstructive and trauma" areas, per his LinkedIn.

Stryker, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is "one of the world’s leading medical technology companies and, together with its customers, is driven to make health care better. The company offers innovative products and services in orthopedics, medical and surgical, and neurotechnology and spine that help improve patient and hospital outcomes," according to its website. 

Here's how Echard did as a Mizzou football player

Missouri running back Ish Witter, center, runs against South Carolina behind the block of Clayton Echard during a game Oct. 3, 2015, at Faurot Field.

The tight end was on Missouri's football team from 2011-15, but mostly saw the field in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Gary Pinkel's last two guiding the program. 

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Echard was a program veteran before making his Missouri debut in 2013 for one game. 

In 2014, he played in all 14 games on special teams, with rare appearances on both sides of the ball before settling at tight end. 

According to the Missouri athletics website, Echard was a "valuable part of the offense’s short-yardage packages."

He finished with four tackles (3 solo, 1 assist) in his time on special teams and defense. 

In 2015, Echard played at solely tight end for Missouri, earning one start. He caught a pair of passes, coming in consecutive games against South Carolina and Florida.

Echard to be on 'The Bachelorette' in 2021 season

His first appearance on the ABC show won't be as the lead, but vying for Young's heart.

Her season doesn't premiere until Oct. 19 — making Echard the first "Bachelorette" suitor to be revealed as the "Bachelor" lead before his first appearance on the franchise.

Before "The Bachelorette" was launched, no "Bachelor" lead had ever appeared for the franchise before. The previous male lead, Matt James, was the first since the early days of the show to never appear as a prior contestant.

James was slated to be a suitor for former female lead Clare Crawley, but ABC selected him as the next male lead before that season began and he never appeared as a suitor.

Bachelor Nation will tune into Young's season knowing Echard likely makes it far into filming without ending up with the school teacher.

Film crews were spotted earlier in September shooting a video of Echard, believed to be a promo for the season, which will likely start airing in early 2022. 

Neither ABC nor Warner Bros. have officially confirmed the online reports, though they have not outright denied them, either. 

Catch up on last season:'The Bachelorette' finale recap: Katie gets engaged in the aftermath of losing two frontrunners

Echard's Instagram shows strong bonds with friends, family

There isn't much to learn about Echard from his social media pages, other than when he does post about his life, he's rarely alone in photos. 

Echard has posted dozens of photos of himself with his family, friends or at events representing Stryker. 

Since Echard's name surfaced as the next Bachelor, his social media following has skyrocketed.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Echard had a little more than 1,000 followers on Instagram. By Thursday morning, he was just shy of 15,000. 

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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