Rams QB John Wolford has a college connection to new Bachelor Matt James

John Wolford makes his first NFL start on Sunday, Jan. 3. The next day, Matt James makes his debut on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” On the surface, those events don’t look related.

Look again. Wolford and James both played college football at Wake Forest — James’ senior season was Wolford’s freshman year. James was a wide receiver and Wolford was a quarterback.

Yep, that’s right — the Rams’ improbable Week 17 starter and the newest Bachelor played catch on ACC football fields in 2014.

Who is the new Bachelor?

James is starring as the newest Bachelor for the 25th season of “The Bachelor,” which starts on Jan. 4, 2021. James is the first Black man cast as the show’s main star.

The path to James’ spot as Bachelor was supposed to begin as a contestant on “The Bachelorette,” but with the COVID-19 pandemic altering Clare Crawley’s season, James wound up cast as the newest Bachelor.

After playing football at Wake Forest, James couldn’t latch on with the Panthers or Saints in the NFL. He moved to New York City after that, and among other ventures, he founded ABC Food Tours, which has the goal “to implement an experiential learning platform for students in NYC living in underserved communities that will educate, motivate, and inspire them to overcome life’s obstacles.”

Who is John Wolford?

Wolford has been the Los Angeles Rams’ backup quarterback during the 2020 season, ready to step in for Jared Goff if needed. Week 17 presents that opportunity.

Goff broke his thumb in Week 16 and won’t play in the regular season finale. It’s a huge game for the Rams, with the only way they ensure a postseason spot is a victory. Wolford will be the man leading an offense that’s also without top wideout Cooper Kupp and features multiple injured running backs.

Wolford was a four-year starter at Wake Forest. He then spent time on the Jets roster in preseason action before heading to the AAF, where he played for the Arizona Hotshots. Wolford was on the Rams’ practice squad in 2019 before backing up Goff in 2020.

John Wolford to Matt James at Wake Forest

James’ first three seasons at Wake Forest (2011-2013) didn’t give him much chance to standout. He got limited playing time as a freshman, then broke his collarbone as a sophomore before hurting his shoulder as a junior. Only as a senior did James get ample playing time.

James’ senior year, 2014, is the same year Wolford arrived on campus and won the Demon Deacons’ starting job as a true freshman. He was the first quarterback in Wake Forest history to start every game of the season as a true freshman. 

Wolford set a number of true freshman passing records for the Wake Forest program while spreading the ball around to a number of receivers. The third-leading pass-catcher for Wake Forest in 2014 was James, who caught 40 throws for 401 yards. 

In the 2014 season finale, James’ final college game, he caught nine passes for 89 yards. Wolford threw for 251 yards and three scores. That essentially amounted to the last time they’ve crossed paths in the spotlight prior to the first week of 2021. 

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