Alejandro Villanueva thought he was in the Not For Long league. He was about to turn 27, had never played a regular-season game and had moved to the offensive line from defensive tackle.
So Villanueva, a former Army Ranger with three tours of duty in Afghanistan, enrolled in the Tepper School of Business’ part-time, on-campus MBA program in the fall of 2015.
“I never thought I was going to make it in the NFL. The odds in the NFL to make it aren’t very good,” Villanueva said, via Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com. “I felt that the reason why I was here was so I could afford to go to business school.”
He attended three hours of evening classes at Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus twice a week. It took him four years to earn his degree, one more year than most students need, but Villanueva graduated last week with his Master’s.
In between, he earned the Steelers’ starting left tackle job, made over $15 million, went to two Pro Bowls and started a family.
“It was a little crazy, but it all becomes normalized,” Villanueva said. “One of the biggest things I learned at West Point was time management. They are always going to put more on your plate than what you can handle.”
Now that he doesn’t need a fallback plan, Villanueva has one. He now is considering going to technical school to learn how to build engines.