Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman, former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva made a statement Friday night. With a little over nine minutes left in the game he sacked New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett. This was his first sack as a professional football player and it was a memorable occasion.
I think my teammates have been helping me a lot over the past couple of months in terms of what to do on the field, because obviously I don’t know much… but mentally, in terms of staying ready, I was preparing to take advantage of the opportunity if it presented itself. The coaches have been great the whole time. To get a moment like that after such a long road, you start thinking of them, teammates and coaches in the Eagles organization who have helped you get here.
Villanueva spent the last five years of his life serving as an Army Ranger. It’s been a long time since he’s been on the grid iron. He isn’t expected to make the team but he has made huge strides in training camp and preseason. Friday’s effort has shown how far he has come.
Villanueva made an impression on the Eagles’ coaches at the Super Regional Combine in Detroit this offseason in April. Impressed them enough to give him a shot at making the team. In his last season of college football, he was a wide receiver. In that season he served as the Army Black Knights offensive captain and led the team with 34 receptions, 522 yards and five touchdown. Prior to that he began as a reserve defensive lineman in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 he transitioned to left tackle.
To see him excel with the Eagles is good to see. It’s a feel good story at the least. But Villanueva wants this chapter of his life to close with him making the team. He’s gained 40 pounds since he’s been with the team and is doing all he can to make the final roster. After his play on Friday he’s made great strides in that direction.