The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Alejandro Villanueva, a 6-foot-9 defensive lineman who spent the past four years as an active member of the United States Army and most recently served as a U.S. Army Ranger.
The Eagles announced the move Monday, saying in a news release that Villanueva signed a rookie free-agent contract.
The 277-pound Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan. He was recently promoted to captain.
The Eagles watched Villanueva, 25, perform at a regional combine in Detroit last month. He last played football in 2009 for Army as a wide receiver, converting to that position before his senior season.
Villanueva served as the Black Knights' offensive captain in 2009 and led the team in receptions (34), yards (522) and touchdowns (five). He began his career at Army as a reserve defensive lineman and transitioned to left tackle in 2008, starting all 12 games at that position as a junior.
According to the Eagles' release, Villanueva has earned a number of honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for valor; the Ranger tab; the Parachutist Badge; the Bronze Star Medal for overseas service; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star; Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; and Combat Infantryman's Badge and Expert Infantryman's Badge.
Villanueva graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in systems engineering and was commissioned into the Army in May 2010 as a lieutenant in the infantry.
During his first deployment to Afghanistan, Villanueva earned the Bronze Star Medal for valor for moving forward under enemy fire to pull wounded soldiers from an isolated position, according to the Eagles' release. He later volunteered for the U.S. Army Rangers program and served two more tours in Afghanistan.