The Eagles announced Monday morning that they have signed 6-9. 277-pound U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva to a rookie free agent deal. He spent the last four years as an active member of the U.S. Army, serving a total of three tours in Afghanistan.
From the Eagles release:
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 is expected to play defensive end for the Eagles even though he went through the Super Regional Combine as a tight end.
He had this to say to Albert Breer of NFL.com about his choice to serve in the army instead of pushing to circumvent service regulations after graduating:
"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," he said, after working out Sunday. "That's where I wanted to be. I wanted to serve, I wanted to see combat. I was actually trying to get as many deployments as I could, and see it with different units. That's where my mind and my heart was."
You can read the full press release here.