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NFL’s Eagles sign former Fort Drum soldier

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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 led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2009. He also played as a reserve defensive lineman and at the left tackle position.

Prior to playing at the academy, he played two years of high school football in Belgium, where his father was stationed while serving in the Navy.

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. He attained the rank of captain on May 1.

According to a news release from the Philadelphia Eagles, Capt. Villanueva, 25, was scouted at a pro combine in Detroit held in April.

At that time, he told NFL.com’s Albert Breer that if he wasn’t signed, he would happily return to service.

“The four years I’ve had in the Army have been the best four years you could ask for,” he 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,” Capt. Villanueva told Breer.

After graduation, he participated in a tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals, but military regulations prevented him from being signed at the time.

Capt. Villanueva’s work at the Detroit combine where he was spotted by the Eagles was profiled by Sports Illustrated’s MMQB website, and can be seen at http://wdt.me/3Ag6JE. The NFL website’s account of his workout can be found at http://wdt.me/QtpLs4.

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