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Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva

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Several collegiate standouts will join the Eagles via the draft this week, but Monday brought a reminder that there are a variety of ways to get to the NFL.

Alejandro Villanueva followed a rarely traveled one. The Eagles announced that they have signed Villanueva as a free agent after he spent the last four years as a U.S. Army Ranger. Captain Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan and has received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Ranger Tab and many other commendations during his years of service.

Villanueva’s unusual football story goes beyond his military service. Villanueva, who measures in at 6-9 and 277 pounds, started at left tackle during his junior year at West Point and then moved to wide receiver as a senior in a shift of responsibilities that’s rarely seen outside of backyard touch football games. He led the Black Knights with five touchdown catches this year but Chip Kelly and company are going to take a look at Villanueva as a defensive lineman, which is another position he played during his college days.

Villanueva spent a little time with the Bengals four years ago before doing his military service and took part in the Super Regional Combine earlier this year. He told Albert Breer of NFL Network that he’ll head back for another tour if he doesn’t make it onto an NFL roster.

“The four years I’ve had in the Army have been the best four years you could ask for,” Villanueva said. “The guys I served with … above me and under me … were phenomenal guys. They were good experiences that made me the man I am today. But now, I see this as a win-win situation. Obviously, I’m trying to get to a team and contribute. But if I can’t, then I can’t wait to get back to the Army and serve in the same manner that I have.”

Villanueva¬†may be a long shot, but he’s an awfully easy one to root for.

[Photo credit: PhiladelphiaEagles.com]

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60 Responses to “Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva”
  1. ghostof34 says: May 5, 2014 10:48 AM

    Good luck, and thank you for your service.

  2. tvguy22 says: May 5, 2014 10:51 AM

    Welcome aboard. You can’t coach size.

  3. dryzzt23 says: May 5, 2014 10:55 AM

    Guarantee a roster spot for this hero. He has EARNED it in so many more ways than any of the prima donnas that come out of the NCAA or have previous NFL experience.

  4. sjoyner59 says: May 5, 2014 10:58 AM

    good luck soldier,would love to see him playing a kids game for a living after his years of service

  5. attorneyfootballtalk says: May 5, 2014 11:01 AM

    Cause big guys beat up little guys.

  6. doctorrustbelt says: May 5, 2014 11:01 AM

    REMIND ME: Why consensus All-American Michael Sam won’t be drafted?!?

  7. dbldmr says: May 5, 2014 11:02 AM

    Just curious as to what moron would thumbs down thanking CPT Villanueva for his service.

  8. 1rockyracoon says: May 5, 2014 11:02 AM

    dryzzt23,

    I doubt the Captain would want a roster spot simply based on his military service. I’m sure he wants to earn his spot on a team. Also, most college football players are not primma donnas.

  9. patbocam says: May 5, 2014 11:05 AM

    The odds are against him but so what. Give em hell!

  10. thestrategyexpert says: May 5, 2014 11:05 AM

    Now why couldn’t they book this guy to speak at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? What an inspiration and great attitude, good luck!

  11. navigator24 says: May 5, 2014 11:07 AM

    He could probably start for the Sixers

  12. havoc108 says: May 5, 2014 11:07 AM

    From a fellow Ranger and Eagles fanatic lead the way brother!!! Welcome home now time to bang it out in the field. RLTW 1/75th

  13. ningenito78 says: May 5, 2014 11:11 AM

    Good luck out-toughing him.

  14. kastout11 says: May 5, 2014 11:12 AM

    I think Howie Roseman knows what he is doing. Howie and Chip must have their reasons for giving Captain a shot, hopefully he makes the best of his shot.

  15. eaglesnoles05 says: May 5, 2014 11:13 AM

    6’9″ soldier?!? Oh yes indeed, let’s kick the tires on that. Two things are given- he is in shape and he can’t be easy to throw around.

  16. whodatnhollywood says: May 5, 2014 11:14 AM

    From a Navy vet, I salute you Army soldier. Way t go! Make another dream come true.

  17. floratiotime says: May 5, 2014 11:19 AM

    I thought West Point was a 6 year commitment ?

  18. buzzlightner says: May 5, 2014 11:21 AM

    Thank you for what u have done for this country.. and i hope i can thank u as an eagle someday

  19. frankfordyellowjackets says: May 5, 2014 11:25 AM

    Can he skate? Flyers need some D men!

  20. granadafan says: May 5, 2014 11:34 AM

    How’d you like to be the enemy and looking straight at this 6’9″ giant of a US Army Ranger charging over the hill at you?

  21. supertheothers says: May 5, 2014 11:34 AM

    RANGERS lead the way!!!

  22. godofwine330 says: May 5, 2014 11:34 AM

    As a veteran I approve of this. Give the man his shot. I hope he is better than Danny Watkins. Hoo-ah (even though we say Hoo-Rah in the Navy).

  23. hugeredskinsfan says: May 5, 2014 11:36 AM

    Tight end maybe? I don’t see him at Tackle or Receiver…

  24. firstdownpunt says: May 5, 2014 11:37 AM

    A 6 9′, 277 pound, ex-army ranger! If that guy can harness his physical potential, and get some solid coaching, he could be dominant. Either way, great story. I’ll be rooting for him.

  25. richardmswartz says: May 5, 2014 11:54 AM

    I hate to be a wet blanket but if this guy was any good he wouldn’t have been so under the radar.

  26. polarbear71 says: May 5, 2014 11:58 AM

    Didn’t he tryout for the Bears a couple years ago as a tight end ?

  27. cslaxcoach says: May 5, 2014 12:01 PM

    Guy has to be athletic.. 6-9, 277, and after playing a couple years of Offensive Tackle, got moved to WR and had 5 TD cathces?? what Tackle has ever moved to WR? I despise the Eagles and their wanna be fans, but Ill root for this dude to be sucessfull. Good luck Capt!!!

  28. thegonz13 says: May 5, 2014 12:16 PM

    @dbldmr… The morons who thumb down folks who wish this kid well are the same morons who gave thumbs down when everyone was posting positive thoughts and prayers for Jim Kelly.

    What can I tell you… some people have way too much free time on their hands!

  29. bathroombenlovemachine says: May 5, 2014 12:16 PM

    The Eagles will draft Michael Sam too

  30. schmitty2 says: May 5, 2014 12:24 PM

    a 6’9 277lb man would disrupt any offense even with minimal coaching on technique.

  31. hotep999 says: May 5, 2014 12:26 PM

    How about a peek at the TE position? A quick tackle with good hands.. can block and catch.

  32. titansbro says: May 5, 2014 12:26 PM

    6’9″ on the battle field?!? Holy crap. Can you imagine this dude running at you with an M-16 or whatever they’re carrying these days?

    Would love to see him make the team.

  33. igotsanduskied says: May 5, 2014 12:29 PM

    Wanna be fans? We sell out every seat in the house no matter what, guess that makes wanna be fans some of the best fans! Hope this giant makes an impact, interested in seeing him play.

  34. cowboysnation34 says: May 5, 2014 12:31 PM

    I hope this guy comes in and beasts. Good luck soldier!

  35. mrdry14 says: May 5, 2014 12:33 PM

    And people were worried that the Eagles couldn’t replace Desean Jackson.

  36. vusnu says: May 5, 2014 12:37 PM

    Does the name King Dunlap mean anything to anybody? How about Ifeanyi Momah?

    I’m rooting for this guy because of his service for our country, but he still needs to be able to play football to succeed in the NFL.

  37. bathroombenlovemachine says: May 5, 2014 12:44 PM

    This Villanueva guy and Chip Kelly make a cute couple.

  38. lagranderrota says: May 5, 2014 12:46 PM

    First spaniard ever to play NFL. Good luck.

  39. bpurd says: May 5, 2014 12:50 PM

    How does he desrves to be on a roster? He has to make the team on his talent not his service. Michael Sam is A pass rusher who is undersize and lacks speed. He doesn’t have a true position he can play in the NFL. He ran a 4.8. I’m 34 and can run a 4.8. I wouldn’t take him.

  40. minibull says: May 5, 2014 12:53 PM

    Dang, I’d like to have him on the Dolphins if for nothing else than to give the locker room a jolt of the real world…

  41. rogerpredactor says: May 5, 2014 1:07 PM

    This week we sign the Captain.
    Next week we draft Tennille.

  42. scw1993 says: May 5, 2014 1:12 PM

    Not a fan of the Eagles, but I certainly will root for this guy, and several others on their team. Chip Kelly seems to know what he wants to do with the team and is doing it. I like this guy. Thank you for your service, Alejandro. Good going, Eagles.

  43. blackbug99 says: May 5, 2014 1:15 PM

    Well, at least the Eagles have one guy with an unquestionable work ethic, and no off-field issues!! Thank you for your Service, and best of luck, Ranger!!

  44. dapollock69 says: May 5, 2014 1:20 PM

    My gawd! He’s like seven-foot-two in heels!

    Signed,
    Johnnie Weir

  45. Future HOF 20xx says: May 5, 2014 1:26 PM

    Great story. I really hope it works out. To make it through Ranger school with that frame is a huge (pun intended) feat. This dude is easily mentally tough enough.

  46. tvguy22 says: May 5, 2014 1:27 PM

    Let’s see, so far the comments have him on the Eagles, the Sixers and the Flyers. Can he pitch too? LOL

  47. irvness21 says: May 5, 2014 1:38 PM

    Moved from Tackle to WR and played some DE. Can you imagine covering a 6’9″ WR in the Red Zone. Why not try him at TE? IF he seriously made the switch from T to WR and played DL he needs to be in the NFL.

  48. mungman69 says: May 5, 2014 1:42 PM

    The Iggles can use all of the defensive lineman that they can get. They only have four (4) on the roster that will make this team. Go man go.

  49. myeaglescantwin says: May 5, 2014 1:59 PM

    Big soldier = big target.
    respects for making it through CPT.
    This young man saw a lot of action & lead a lot of men.
    Shows that this individual leads with his brains , , and then the massive frame follows. Talk about adding the right example & attitude.

    ROCK FLAG AND EAGLES

  50. nomoreseasontix says: May 5, 2014 3:05 PM

    I’m glad he’s on my team, whichever way it turns out.
    Outstanding.

  51. lamarrac says: May 5, 2014 6:33 PM

    Giants suck!

  52. fdugrad says: May 5, 2014 6:36 PM

    West Point and an Army Ranger, with combat medals is enough accomplishments for a lifetime regardless what happens in his NFL experience. The fact that he will return to The Rangers if need be says a great deal about this amazing man as well. Thank you for your service Captain.

  53. 1phillyphan says: May 5, 2014 7:03 PM

    As a Navy and veteran of Desert Storm…welcome Home soldier !! (sorry about Navy waxing you all again btw)…I’m not sure about his abilities to actually make the team but, we are ALL rooting for you !!..the mental toughness you have and the desire to be the best will be nothing short of inspiring to all fan and your team mates. At 6’9 maybe Chip will give him a shot at a redzone TE target, or maybe a Rush LB, a Punt Blocker?..Chip make a spot for this guy even if its a practice squad player..KEEP HIM HOME..he did his country proud. Keep him here. Plus, I’m sure he is already Sixer starter material..Anyways..Thank you for your service young man and again WELCOME HOME !!!

  54. johnycomments says: May 5, 2014 9:02 PM

    Holy Crap. Please let this guy be the next Manster.

    Even if his play isn’t as scary as Reggie White’s or Jerome Brown’s, he’d basically provide depth at three freaking positions at once. Can he kick too?! I wonder what his wingspan is, 7ft? Man. And we thought Braman was King Kong…

    I don’t think they’d go through the motions with this man if he didn’t stand a good chance going by what they’ve seen already. If they’d can a guy over chemistry I imagine it may be a reason to hire as well.

    Forget the double (triple?!) teams he’d draw as a wide-out or what he might do as a pass rusher, Chip’d probably keep him around to block for Shady and to have a warm body that could fill in on *either* line.

    Plus he may know some chop blocks the NFL hasn’t even seen yet.

  55. myfriendbobsacamano says: May 5, 2014 9:29 PM

    very disappointed in all the redskins fans with their thumbs down, ya HTTRs; good luck Capt!; & redskins – have fun w djax, & snider, ha

  56. bassplucker says: May 5, 2014 10:43 PM

    I think he had a cup of coffee with the Bears a year or two ago. That is just ridiculous size plus obvious toughness so if he makes it onto the roster that could be fun to watch.

  57. oldbyrd says: May 6, 2014 8:51 AM

    If he makes it with The Eagles, he will be more popular than ROCKY. I wish him the very very best.

  58. Youknowimright says: May 6, 2014 12:04 PM

    First a papali, then a fireman, now this. I’m sure it will work.

  59. Youknowimright says: May 6, 2014 12:10 PM

    Oh my god! i forgot the jeremy bloom skier great kick returner pick-up. hilarious.

  60. thibeaultfkkf says: Jul 16, 2014 10:16 PM

    Why do they only focus on some gay guy making it, but they don’t even mention a us army ranger, ANYWHERE?

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