FORT DRUM — Alejandro Villanueva’s road from 10th Mountain Division soldier to Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter circled back to the north country Monday, as he taught football to children raised in military families like his own.
“It’s a time for me to realize how much people sacrifice to be in the service, and the things they do,” said Villanueva, who served at Fort Drum from 2010-12. “I’m just very thankful, I’m very thankful people are serving our country the way they do, and setting the standard like they do in the 10th Mountain Division.”
Hitting the field, children worked on the fundamentals of the game, such as throwing, catching and blocking, Villanueva’s current specialty as an offensive lineman.
A mountain of a man at 6-foot-9, and 320 pounds, about 75 pounds more than his Army weight, Villanueva towered over the campers.
“Doesn’t he look like a giant to you?” one young camper yelled to another.
Others had questions for the Steelers’ standout.
“How are you 28?” one camper asked, looking up to Villanueva.
“I was born 28 years ago,” Villanueva replied.
Children taking part in the camp were split into three groups, with team names following Villanueva’s path to the pros: Spartans, for Villanueva’s high school football team at SHAPE High School, Belgium; Black Knights, for his time playing at Army West Point; and Steelers, his current NFL home.
While at Fort Drum, Villanueva served with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and deployed to Afghanistan with the unit. During the deployment, he…
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