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Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva


First Lt. Alejandro Villanueva is getting his shot at the NFL.

The 6-foot-9, 277-pound U.S. Army Ranger signed a rookie free-agent contract to play defensive end with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced Monday.

Villanueva, 25, spent the last four years as an active member of the Army, serving in three tours in Afghanistan. He last played football in 2009 at the U.S. Military Academy, where he was West Point's top wide receiver as a senior. He also took snaps at left guard, tight end and defensive end in his four years of college football.

Villanueva had a tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals after graduation but, with the strict service regulations, he knew it wouldn't be more than a cameo.

The Eagles scouted Villanueva in April at the Super Regional Combine in Detroit, where the defensive end told NFL Media's Albert Breer that he looked forward to getting one more shot at the NFL, but had no regrets about his life's journey.

"The four years I've had in the Army have been the best four years you could ask for," Villanueva told Breer. "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."

You can read Breer's extensive piece on Villanueva here.

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