Before he was the Bachelor and an NYC real estate mogulMatt James was a seriously talented athlete at Wake Forest University. His football stats are impressive, and he even gave himself a year to play in the NFL before settling into his current career. 

The Raleigh native was a wide receiver for four seasons at the prestigious North Carolina private university. During his sophomore year, the Bachelor Nation star broke his collar bone after playing just three games. Despite sitting out the rest of the season and being limited to four games during his junior year, Matt had a triumphant last season. 

Bachelor Matt James Football at Wake Forest
Chuck Burton/AP/Shutterstock

He “caught a career-best 40 passes for 401 yards as a senior,” according to Wake Forest. After graduating with a degree in economics, he tried his hand in the NFL. He was eventually cut from the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints before moving to the Big Apple.

Playing at Wake Forest is how Matt met his BFF and Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron. The two studs are clearly still in excellent shape and seem to still have their competitive spirit during intense workouts together. Of course, the Florida native was stoked for his pal to become the new leading man.

“Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” Tyler wrote on Instagram after the announcement. “Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. Proud of you and so excited for you. Not excited that somebody will be taking my spot as your snuggle buddy.”

Matt was originally cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s season before he was announced as the first Black Bachelor in franchise history in June.

“It’s an honor, you know,” Matt said on Good Morning America following the big announcement. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me. Hopefully, when people invite me into their homes on Monday night, they’ll see I’m not much different than them and see diverse love stories are beautiful.”

Bachelor Matt James and Mom Patty
Courtesy Matt James/Instagram

As far as his type, Matt is “looking for qualities” that his “mom embodies.” He’s hoping to find a woman who is “selfless, honest, caring [and] compassionate.”

Hopefully, Matt won’t be ~playing the field~ much longer!