Former football players are a staple of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchises. Sometimes they’re suitors vying for the Bachelorette’s hand, as was the case with Dale Moss on Clare Crawley’s season. In other cases, a contestant turns into their own season’s leading man, as Colton Underwood managed to do with his turn as the Bachelor. And, as the franchise did with Jesse Palmer, sometimes they choose a football player with no previous franchise experience. That’s where 2021’s Bachelorette Matt James comes in.
Matt James is the first Black Bachelor in the history of the franchise, and his season is already one that’s piquing interest, unlike his professional football career.
Bach fans might have seen Matt James galavanting around with fan favorite and certified “How can anyone be that good looking?” Tyler Cameron. On Hannah Brown’s season, Tyler C. was the runner up to Jed who happened to be the worst human of all-time. While the world has clamored for a Tyler C. Bachelor season, we are all certainly not settling for Matt James. Why? Because Matt James is the real deal.
But how was he on the Football field? Good question.
James graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and made waves in the state’s high school football scene. James would finish out his high school career with 716 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his senior season. That season would see him rated the 28th best player in the state by the Fayetteville Observer and 27th in the state by Rivals.com.
Ahead of graduation, James was named the MVP of the National Underclassmen Combine, where he ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. That’s the 40-yard time of an average NFL wideout, and schools took notice. To give you current NFL context, Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson ran a 4.43 in 2020, Eagles wideout Jalen Reagor posted a 4.47, and Cowboys rookie CeeDee Lamb put up 4.50.
Matt James had a solid number of offers to play football in college with scholarships from Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, and Syracuse, but he opted to play for Wake Forest.
However, he didn’t see a ton of action while playing for the Demon Deacons. In his senior year, where he was the most used, James had his career-best season, catching 40 passes for 401 yards. His best game of the year came during the season finale against Duke, where he had 9 catches for 87 yards.
Despite his college numbers, James was invited to the Carolina Panthers rookie minicamp in 2015, where he was cut. James would later go on to spend some time with the New Orleans Saints at their rookie minicamp as well.
Matt James does have a track record of surrounding himself with some great people on the football field.
Recently, his Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford made his NFL debut for the Los Angeles Rams in place of an injured Jared Goff. And Wolford’s backup at Wake Forest? None other than Tyler Cameron. (Just for fun, Cameron went undrafted in the NFL Draft but was later signed briefly by the Baltimore Ravens.)
Let’s hope that this year Matt can surround himself with the woman of his dreams as he begins his journey towards love on The Bachelor.
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