“I did find love,” the orthopedic sales rep, 28, said on Good Morning America on Wednesday, December 1. “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. Again, I’m just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well.”
Clayton first appeared on Michelle Young‘s season of The Bachelorette, during which he opened up about not feeling good enough. However, by the end of his time on her season, he had gained a bit more confidence, with the teacher, 28, telling him he is more than “enough” ahead of their split.
“I just want to find love so badly, and have a family, and start that chapter of my life,” he shared during his emotional exit. “I want it more than anything else. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get that. Whatever it takes.”
Going into The Bachelor, the Missouri native had “a checklist of sorts” when it came to what he was looking for in a partner, he said during Wednesday’s interview.
“I was looking for somebody that was funny, intelligent, driven, put forth effort and so I figured, ‘OK, that’s a good list and hopefully I’ll find that,'” the former football player told ABC’s Lara Spencer. “Well, what I found was very quickly the women blew my expectations out of the water. They brought all of that and so much more, so the expectations continued to rise, and I realized that, ultimately, I was going to find everything that I wanted and so much more.”
At the end of filming, he felt “incredibly honored and just humbled” by the process — and learned a lot about himself.
“There were so many things that I learned. I think the biggest one would be becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable, and stepping out of that comfort zone. It really challenged me to grow as an individual,” the University of Missouri grad explained. It has been quite the journey.”
Michelle, for her part, gushed over Clayton during an interview on Us Weekly‘s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast last month.
“With this process, I think just so many of the men challenge themselves to open up and Clayton was a guy who really challenges — truly challenges — himself,” she shared exclusively with Us at the time. “And [he] is always in this constant state of reflection. He has a good head on his shoulders.”
Us confirmed last month that the athlete will lead season 26 of the reality series, with a source revealing at the time that he “stood out right off the bat” when he began filming The Bachelorette.
“Producers ended up going with him because they believed he was the best fit for the role. They wanted to switch things up and go with someone new and someone who hasn’t been in the spotlight yet,” the insider added. “The mystery makes it more exciting for the prospective contestants. The crew found out about it last minute. The decision wasn’t even made until about a week prior to filming his intro.”
The Bachelor debuts on ABC Monday, January 3, at 8 p.m. ET.