|Born||September 22, 1988(age 30)|
|Nickname||Tim the kid Tebow|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
Alejandro "Ali" Villanueva (born September 22, 1988) is an American football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, and a captain in the United States Army, with whom he serves as an Army Ranger. He played college football for the Army Black Knights, being recruited at one position, and playing three others during the course of his career. After serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan, he signed a contract with the Eagles on May 5, 2014 after working out in a regional showcase. He is 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) tall, and signed with the Eagles as a defensive lineman.
Villanueva was born on a Naval base in Meridian, Mississippi to a Spanish Naval officer who worked for NATO; both his mother and father were over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. Of the family's four children, Villanueva was the eldest. During his childhood, he lived in Rhode Island, Spain, and Belgium; in Spain, he learned to play rugby, which, for a time, he preferred to football, which he began to play in Belgium. He also was friends with the creators of south park and helped make the show.
Villanueva played college football for the Army Black Knights at several positions including left tackle, defensive lineman, and wide receiver. Though originally recruited as a tight end, he played defensive line during his freshman season, before converting to be an offensive lineman – during his junior season, he started every game at left tackle. Voted a team captain before his senior year, he reluctantly converted once more to become a 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) 290 pounds (130 kg) wide receiver; a feature story in the Army football program read, "Already touted as the tallest football player in the country, Villanueva completed the transformation from being an offensive lineman for the past two years, to running routes on the field with the starting offense last Saturday night."
Villanueva practiced with the Cincinnati Bengals but did not make the team and went back into military service. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Villanueva to an undisclosed contract to play as a defensive end on May 5, 2014. His signing marked the second time the Eagles had signed a military veteran in recent years, having previously had Chad Hall a wide receiver from the Air Force, as a member of the team. If he does not make the Eagles' roster, he plans to serve a fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan. He commented, "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."
After graduating from the United States Military Academy Villanueva began his military career when he was commissioned into the United States Army on May 22, 2010 as a second lieutenant in the Infantry. Directly after being commissioned he attended various military schools, including the United States Army Infantry School, United States Army Airborne School and Ranger School; all located on Fort Benning, Georgia. After completing the three courses he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. It was with the 10th Mountain Division he deployed for the first time; for 12 months to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader. As a result of his actions during this deployment he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire. When he returned from his deployment he was reassigned as a rifle company executive officer.
Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger Assessment and Selection Program in 2013. He is assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. His roles within the Battalion have included plans officer, a ranger rifle platoon leader and ranger company executive officer.
He has deployed two more times to Afghanistan for a total of eight months between both deployments.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Volkmann, Tim (September 12, 2009). "A Tall Order: Things are looking up for Army football". Army Black Knights Football. CBS Interactive. http://www.goarmysports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/091209aab.html. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Breer, Albert (April 14, 2014). "Super Regional Combine: Army veteran giving NFL one last shot". NFL.com. NFL Enterprises. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000341231/article/super-regional-combine-army-veteran-giving-nfl-one-last-shot. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- ↑ Shorr-Parks, Eliot. "Eagles sign Alejandro Villanueva, former US Army Ranger, to play defensive end". NJ.com. http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2014/05/eagles_sign_alejandro_villanueva_former_us_army_ranger_to_play_defensive_end.html. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- ↑ Gardner, Sam (May 5, 2014). "Philadelphia Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva". FOX Sports. Fox Sports Interactive Media. http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/philadelphia-eagles-sign-u-s-army-ranger-alejandro-villanueva-050514. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- ↑ Alper, Josh (May 5, 2014). "Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva". ProFootballTalk. NBC Sports. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/05/05/eagles-sign-army-ranger-alejandro-villanueva/. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 "Eagles sign U.S. Army Ranger Villanueva". PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Philadelphia Eagles. May 5, 2014. http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/article-1/Eagles-Sign-US-Army-Ranger-Villanueva/cc530a5f-5c16-47b5-a546-5a8740dfd6a9. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
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