Clayton Echard Is Officially Your Next ‘Bachelor — First Look at Season 26 (VIDEO)

'The Bachelor' Season 26, Clayton Echard to star
ABC/Pamela Littky

After months of speculation, ABC has officially announced that Clayton Echard will be the leading man of The Bachelor Season 26! Introduced to Bachelor Nation fans on Michelle Young’s current Season 18 of The Bachelorette, the former Seattle Seahawks tight end will get a second chance at love in the “globetrotting” new season, which premieres on Monday, January 3.

“I’m just a Midwest guy from Missouri that just wants to find love. And I believe, more than anything, that my future wife is here,” says Echard in the first look trailer at the upcoming season, which also marks the show’s landmark 20th anniversary.

Described as a “puppy-loving goofball with a heart of gold (and surprisingly good dance moves) who is ready to find the love of his life,” Echard charmed fans during his time on The Bachelorette, ultimately being sent home by Young before Hometown dates. “In that one touching moment, Clayton’s genuine desire to find a partner and start a family shines through, and never has it been so evident that one man deserves a second chance at finding that great love,” states the season’s description.

Nicknamed “Claynos” by his fellow Bachelorette men, Echard attended the University of Missouri on a football scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health science while also helping his team win back-to-back SEC championships. After his brief stint in the NFL, the 28-year-old realized football wasn’t his calling, instead setting his sights on finding “the one.”

Growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends on Lake St. Louis, tubing, fishing, and playing a good game of cornhole. Going into his role as the new Bachelor, he is looking to find a relationship like his parents, Brian and Kelly, have, who have been married for 29 years. “Just like his parents, Clayton’s looking for a partner, a great love, and a best friend.”

Like every season of The Bachelor, the trailer promises tons of exciting drama among the new group of singles vying for Echard’s heart, causing him to question his journey in the process. “I’m done. It’s over. I’m just so broken,” Echard weeps after an emotional moment.

Fans won’t have to wait too much longer to see where Echard’s journey for love takes him in 2022!

The Bachelor, Season 26 Premiere, Monday, January 3, 8/9c, ABC