More than 13 years ago, Jeremy Pestor was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal because he was the lone member of the Class of 2000 at Calvary Baptist Christian School in Sun Prairie.

This week, the now 32-year-old debuts as part of the reality show “Sweet Home Alabama,” that will air for 10 weeks beginning Friday on the CMT.

Pestor, a DeForest native who now lives in Orange County, Calif., received an email from a casting agency looking for a certain type of country guy and city guy for the program.

Even though he lives in a city now, he applied because of where he grew up “which is more country,” he said.

After some initial interviews, he was flown to Alabama, where he made the final cut.

The show features 11 “country guys” and 11 “city guys,” all trying to win the heart of a Southern belle.

“It’s basically the country version of ‘The Bachelor,’” Pestor said.

They move into a house together and “there’s lots of fighting, drama,” he added.

She begins to eliminate the guys until she gets down to one.

Pestor, who works as a hospice consultant and a youth mentor, is under contract and can’t discuss whether he was that person until after the show airs.

The filming lasted for a month and saying how long he was there would reveal how long he will remain on the program.

He admits the CMT show is a much bigger stage than the State Journal, but still has fond memories of being featured in the paper all those years ago.

“One day — the day I was graduating — I woke up and I was on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool.’”

Pestor, the son of a retired pastor, uses the word “incredible” to describe his experience on the show.

“I went in with the mindset of hoping to find love, but definitely wanted to go to be a testimony.”

As the second oldest one in the house, he decided to take on the chaplain role, “mentoring the guys or just giving them good advice, being a good example of what a man should be.

“Obviously, meeting the girl was pretty nice, too.”

— Samara Kalk Derby

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