After a jam-packed 2021 in Bachelor Nation, The Bachelor is gearing up for its Season 26 return in 2022. Though unconfirmed by ABC, it’s no secret that the upcoming season will star Clayton Echard of Michelle Young’s current season of The Bachelorette. However, there are several noteworthy contestants from this season that would make for great future Bachelor candidates.
Going into the Hometown Dates, Michelle narrowed down the competition to her final four men, sending Clayton and three others home in the process. While only one of them will get down on one knee, the future of the contestants’ journeys in Bachelor Nation may not be over, as many former contestants go on to appear on Bachelor in Paradise or get the major upgrade of leading one of the show’s new seasons.
Did ABC make the right choice selecting Clayton as the next Bachelor star? Vote in the poll below for which of Michelle’s notable Season 18 Bachelorette contestants you think has earned the gig of future Bachelor lead!
Following a romantic one-on-one date planned by Michelle’s students in Episode 6, Clayton was sent home unexpectedly after Michelle admitted she felt stronger connections with the other guys. His departure did set up his Bachelor season, as he received emotional reading handwritten notes from her students and expressed his desire to find love and to start a family. Clayton was one of the season’s nicer and seemingly genuine contestants, but did viewers get enough of him? Time will tell!
Rodney’s positive spirit and fun-loving energy caught Michelle’s attention early on, securing him a one-on-one date in Episode 3. Always looking out for Michelle’s best interests, he earned the final rose going into Hometowns, giving him another shot to show her he is the one. While Michelle’s connections with other guys seem stronger, Rodney’s future this season remains unknown. Could his Hometown Date affect their entire relationship? If he is sent home, we would love to see him make a triumphant return on a future Bachelor season. He would even make for a perfect Paradise contestant!
Joe and Michelle’s journey began before filming commenced, as the two previously connected with each other over social media. He then surprised her in-person on the show in hopes to shoot his shot with the former college basketball player. They quickly formed a deep connection over their love of sports, Minnesota roots, and similar life struggles. Joe has been at the head of the pack since the beginning of the season, but could his quiet nature and unease with opening up to others put a strain on their relationship?
After an early spark with the Bachelorette, Brandon finally got his wish of going on a one-on-one date with Michelle in Episode 6, going with her to visit her childhood home (before their date was crashed by her parents). He has made his feelings for Michelle very clear from the start, but asking for her parents’ blessing this early on was a little fast. Perhaps everything will change during Hometowns — for better or for worse. If he’s not the one for Michelle, we would love to see him find love on The Bachelor.
Michelle’s relationship with Nayte is arguably the strongest of the season so far, but that doesn’t mean he has it in the bag. After all, Katie Thurston’s connection with early frontrunner Greg came crashing to a halt before Fantasy Suite dates after she couldn’t assure him he was the one. Based on teasers for upcoming episodes, it appears that he makes it to the tropical Fantasy Suites and may even put a ring on Michelle’s finger. Until then, we can still imagine how great of a Bachelor Nayte could be.
Though he was the sweetheart of the season, Rick did not receive a Hometown rose. Michelle assured him that the decision was nothing personal, but rather feeling stronger connections to other guys. Despite this, he always made sure to show Michelle how much he cared, especially on his sentimental one-on-one in Episode 4. After staying out of the drama in the house throughout the season, Rick’s kind personality would make him a perfect Bachelor star, as he has proven to be genuine in his journey to find love.
Another of Michelle’s contestants to be sent home before Hometowns, Olu always wore his heart on his sleeve. Perhaps his fatal flaw was using his much-needed time with her to discuss drama amongst the guys instead of building their relationship. In spite of this, he was open about his feelings for her — even if they weren’t reciprocated. In his exit, he melted our hearts by stating his full name means “your hero’s here,” proving Olu deserves more screen time in Bachelor Nation. Whether he would return on The Bachelor or in Paradise, we would love to watch him continue to find the one for him.
The Bachelorette, Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC