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U.S. Army Ranger signs with Eagles

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 05 2014 10:45:10 AM MDT
Updated On: May 05 2014 01:00:12 PM MDT
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iStock/joecicak

Defensive end Alejandro Villanueva, a first lieutenant U.S. Army Ranger, signed a rookie free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

Villanueva, 25, spent the last four years as an active member of the Army. He served in three tours in Afghanistan. He last played football in 2009 at the U.S. Military Academy as a wide receiver. He also played some snaps at left guard, tight end and defensive end in his four years.

Villanueva (6-foot-9, 277 pounds) tried out with the Cincinnati Bengals after graduation but would not have been able to stay if he made the team because of strict service regulations.

The Eagles scouted Villanueva in April. He told NFL.com that he wanted another chance to play in the NFL.

"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."