According to a press release, the Philadelphia Eagles have signed defensive lineman and U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva to a rookie free agent contract. Villaneuva, who spent three tours in Afghanistan over the last four years, stands tall at 6-9, 277 pounds. Prior to serving, he played wide receiver and offensive lineman for the Army football team.
Albert Breer of NFL Network interviewed Villanueva last month at the NFL's Super Regional Combine. Breer, on Twitter, said that Villanueva is "one of those guys you could imagine becoming president one day. Fascinating guy to talk to." More from the article itself:
And even without his post-college heroics, or his West Point background, Villanueva's tale is an interesting one. The son of a Naval officer, he played only two years of high school football, both in Belguim, and started at left tackle as a junior, then became Army's top wideout as a senior, while also having taken snaps at left guard, tight end and defensive end over his four years. In 2009, he was the Black Knights' leader with five touchdown catches, and the tallest player in major college football.
As he said, at that point, his focus shifted to more serious battlefields. After his tryout with the Bengals, he went to Ranger school and Airborne school, and was deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2011. He went again in 2012, and again last year, all the while never losing his passion for football.
Breer also noted Villanueva met with Chip Kelly at the SRC. Kelly's immense respect for the nation's Armed Forces is well-documented. (Not to mention his affinity for players with size.)
It's really cool to see the Eagles give a guy like Villanueva, a self-admitted long-shot, a chance to play in the NFL.