First Lt. Caleb Campbell was not the only former Army football player to workout with an NFL team this past weekend. Army senior Ali Villaneuva was able to attend the Cincinnati Bengals rookie mini-camp this past weekend.
The 6-foot-10 Villanueva, who played wide reliever this past season at West Point, worked out as a tight end with the Bengals, according to our Gannett brothers at The (Cinncinati) Enquirer.
Villanueava has no shot at playing in the NFL this fall or next fall. He’ll be leaving for Ranger school at Fort Benning after he graduates from West Point later this month. He said he will then be assigned to the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he will be an infantry platoon leader.
In an interview with the Times Herald-Record, Villanuava made clear that even though he participated in camp, his Army commitment is first and foremost on his mind.
“I don’t want people to think that I’m going to be with the 10th Mountain Division but thinking in the back of my head, ‘this is temporary, I need to get out of this.’ I’m fully committed to the Army. That’s my job right now. Still, a lot of people here have the perception that I’m trying to keep that gate open and coast through these two years as fast as possible so I can go out there and give it another shot. But, right now, the 10th Mountain Division owns me. I’m 100 percent committed to whatever they tell me to do.”
Per Army policy, an officer wishing to play professional sports can apply for early release from active duty after serving for two years. The officer would then have to serve six years in the Army Reserve or National Guard. Caleb Campbell, who signed a contract with the Detroit Lions last week, is the first Army officer to go through this process since the rules were changed in 2008.