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Alejandro Villanueva Biography Taken from From Wikipedia

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Alejandro "Ali" Villanueva (born September 22, 1988) is an American football offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). Villanueva is also a Captain in the United States Army, in which he served as an Army Ranger and was decorated with a Bronze Star for valor. 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.
Early life
Villanueva was born on Naval Air Station Meridian in Meridian, Mississippi to Spanish nationals Ignacio Villanueva, a Spanish Naval officer who worked for NATO, and Matilda Martin.Both his mother and father are over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. Alejandro was the eldest of the family's four children, including siblings Paloma, Iñaki and Carmen.
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. It was while he was attending SHAPE High School in Casteau, Belgium that he was recruited to play American football.[3] Villanueva's childhood friend whom he'd met at SHAPE HS was recruited to play football for the Army Black Knights and his friend told the Army coaches about Villanueva. They kept in touch and Villanueva told him that he was considering attending West Point, where he later enrolled.
His brother Iñaki Villanueva is a professional rugby union player. He plays with the Spain national rugby union team and with the sevens team. He was in the squad that qualified for the 2016 Olympics and he played in the Olympic tournament.
College career
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia
Villanueva his senior year with Army


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 end during his freshman season, mostly on special teams. In his sophomore season offensive line coach John Tice lobbied to have Villanueva converted to an offensive tackle which occurred near the end of his sophomore year. By 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 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."His height, while reported by Army Football in 2009 to be 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m),was given by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 as 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m).
Philadelphia Eagles
On May 5, 2014, he was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles for an undisclosed contract to play as a defensive end.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.Villanueva said that if he did not make an NFL roster, he planned 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."During training camp, Villanueva gained 40 pounds (18 kg), noting that he is eating a consistent diet, which contrasted with his military career insofar as while in the military, he often did not have time or inclination to eat, whereas with the Eagles, he was getting "plenty to eat".It was announced on Saturday, August 23 that he was one of fourteen players cut from the team.
Pittsburgh Steelers
During a pre-season game against the Steelers, Villanueva was spotted by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. After Tomlin was impressed by Villanueva's size, the Steelers signed him to a two-year, $960,000 reserve/futures contract on January 6, 2015. Upon joining his new team, he was immediately changed from a defensive end to a left tackle, as it was thought to better suit him. As a defensive end for the Eagles, Villanueva weighed 250 lbs. Within a year of becoming an offensive tackle, he rose up to 340 lbs.
Throughout the 2014 season, Villanueva was kept on the practice squad to learn the position, put on more weight, and develop his abilities. He made his debut the following year during the 2015 season opener against the New England Patriots, playing five snaps as an extra tackle on goal-line plays.
The following year, he was able to get reps in training camp and preseason as the second-team swing tackle, after Mike Adams suffered an injury. With Adams unable to recover before the regular season, Villanueva was slated as the Steelers' swing tackle to begin the 2015 season. He also appeared on special teams and played a few plays at tight end during this period.
On October 18, 2015, Villanueva received his first opportunity at left tackle against the Arizona Cardinals after starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum left the game with a torn ACL.
The following week, Villanueva received his first career start at offensive tackle since his sophomore year at Army in 2008 and was tasked with blocking Kansas City Chiefs Pro-Bowl defensive end, Tamba Hali. He allowed a stripped sack in the fourth quarter, allowing the Chiefs to defeat the Steelers. With Beachum out for the remainder of the season, Villanueva continued to play left tackle and started the last 12 games of the Steelers' season, including two playoffs games.
Villanueva was named the starting left tackle position to begin 2016 after Kelvin Beachum left via free agency and Villanueva outperformed Ryan Harris in training camp. He started all 16 regular season games in the 2016 season.
Military career
After graduating from the United States Military Academy Villanueva 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 Infantry, Airborne and Ranger Schools; all located at 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 company executive officer.
Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger Orientation Program in 2013. He was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion. His roles within the Battalion have included plans officer, platoon leader and company executive officer.
He has deployed two more times to Afghanistan for a total of eight months between both deployments
Commendations
U.S. military awards and decorations
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia

Bronze Star Medal with "V" device and one oak leaf cluster
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia National Defense Service Medal
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia

Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia Army Service Ribbon
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Alejandro Villanueva Biography taken from From Wikipedia NATO Medal

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