Eagles Sign Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva
The Philadelphia Eagles have signed defensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva to a rookie free agent contract. The 6-9, 277-pound Villanueva spent the last four years as an active member of the U.S. Army, serving a total of three tours in Afghanistan. He was most recently promoted to Captain earlier this month.
"As soon as I graduated, especially with all my classmates at West Point who were all going to serve, my mind and my heart were going to Afghanistan," Villanueva said after a regional combine earlier this year.
Villanueva has earned many honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, the Bronze Star Medal for overseas service, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge.
The Eagles watched the 25-year-old Villanueva perform at the Super Regional Combine in Detroit this offseason from April 12-13. He last played football in 2009 for Army as a wide receiver after converting to that position prior to his senior season. That year, Villanueva served as the Black Knights offensive captain and led the team in catches (34), yards (522) and touchdowns (5). He originally began his career at Army seeing action as a reserve defensive lineman from 2006-07 before making the transition to left tackle in 2008, starting all 12 games at that position in his junior campaign.
Villanueva graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering and was commissioned into the U.S. Army, May 22, 2010 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. He then moved to Fort Benning, Ga., to attend the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Basic Airborne Course and the U.S. Army Ranger Course.
Upon completion, he reported to Fort Drum, N.Y., where he served in the 10th Mountain Division. While serving with the 10th Mountain Division, Villanueva deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months as a Rifle Platoon Leader. During his deployment, he earned a Bronze Star Medal for Valor for moving forward under enemy fire to pull his wounded Soldiers from their isolated position. When Villanueva returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan, he was assigned as a Rifle Company Executive Officer.
In November 2013, Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Assessment and Selection Program and was hired to serve with 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. As a U.S. Army Ranger, he served as a Plans Officer, a Ranger Rifle Platoon Leader and a Ranger Company Executive Officer, and deployed to Afghanistan two more times for a total of eight months.
Villanueva played both football and basketball for two years at SHAPE American High School in Belgium, where his father, Ignacio, worked for NATO. Born on 9/22/88 in Meridian, MI, Villanueva spent the majority of his early years growing up in Spain, where he swam competitively and played rugby. He took up football for the first time after his family moved to Belgium.