A former Fort Drum soldier, Capt. Alejandro Villanueva, was signed to a rookie free agent contract Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 6-foot-9, 277-pound defensive end played wide receiver at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, where he graduated in 2010. As a cadet, he played wide receiver, leading the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2009. He also played as a reserve defensive lineman and at the left tackle position.
While at Fort Drum, he served with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and deployed to Afghanistan with the unit. During the deployment, Capt. Villanueva earned a Bronze Star with Valor after reportedly helping fellow soldiers pinned under enemy fire.
In November 2013, he was moved to the 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga, where he deployed to Afghanistan two more times.
According to a news release from the Philadelphia Eagles, Capt. Villanueva was scouted at a pro combine in Detroit held in April.
After graduation, he participated in a tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals, but military regulations prevented him from being signed at the time.
Military rules implemented in 2008 state military academy graduates can apply for an early release to play professional sports after two years of active duty service. If granted, the service members are required to serve in the military reserves and pay back some of their education costs.
Capt. Villanuevas work at the Detroit combine where he was spotted by the Eagles was profiled by Sports Illustrateds MMQB website, and can be seen at http://wdt.me/3Ag6JE