On May 5, 2014 the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva to the roster. The signing came out of the nowhere but it could end up making one man’s dream come true. Could Villanueva make the roster of 53? How great of a feel-good story would that make?
Villanueva has dreamed of becoming an NFL player for many years. During college he played for the Army at several positions, left tackle, defensive lineman and wide receiver. He practiced with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 but did not make the team. He went back to the Army. After that deployment he tried out for the Chicago Bears but again did not make the team. So back to the Army he went again.
Late in 2014 his time with the Army was coming to an end. He was faced with the decision to stay or go. In what was a difficult decision he left the Army to pursue his dream of becoming an NFL Player.
Not having played since 2009 he would be behind the proverbial eight ball at the start. But he’s faced much worse situations in the past so he won’t be daunted by this challenge. And in fact, he has caught the eye of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
I’ve been kind of partially amazed that he could do what he’s done. He was training such in a different realm, I think he was preparing for a lot of the PT work that he did in the Army, he was running five miles a day. We’re certainly not asking our defensive linemen to run five miles a day. There was one day here … I think he went from here to an Army training session and went out and had a couple PT tests that he had to pass and actually one of them was a five-mile test. He nailed it and came back and didn’t miss a day. He’s been just a guy that you see every day just getting a little bit better, getting a little bit better. As I said the other day, a real intriguing prospect but just amazed at everything that Alejandro does to be honest with you.
His effort and work ethic may not translate to a place on the 53 man roster for the Philadelphia Eagles. But if he can continue to grow and learn he just might. Standing 6′ 9″ tall he is the tallest player on the team. It would be nice to see him on the defensive line. Can you imagine an opposing quarterback trying to throw over that wingspan?