Have Any Army or Navy College Prospects Ever Played in the NFL?

    The Army-Navy game is an iconic matchup with decorated armed forces members. Learn about the most famous and recent NFL Draft prospects from Army and Navy.

    The Army-Navy game is one of the most iconic and revered traditions in college football, showcasing the rivalry and respect between the service academies and their players. The game is also a tribute to the military and its values, as the players represent their schools, branches, and country.

    However, until recently, the Army-Navy game rarely featured NFL draft prospects. Unlike most college football players, who have the freedom and the option to pursue their NFL dreams after graduation, service academy players have a different and more difficult path, as they have to fulfill their military obligations and commitments before they can even think about playing in the NFL.

    Army or Navy Prospects Who Played in the NFL

    Until former US President Donald Trump signed the Armed Forces waiver, Army or Navy prospects didn’t have much chance to make the NFL. Before the updated 2019 policy, armed forces members had to fulfill their military service obligations, often lasting almost five years after graduation.

    Many service academy players face challenges when pursuing careers in the NFL. These challenges are often related to their military commitments and obligations, which prevent them from entering the NFL immediately after graduation and limit their availability and flexibility during their NFL careers.

    Despite these obstacles, several Army and Navy players have successfully made their way to the NFL.

    One of the most famous football players to graduate from a service academy is Roger Staubach. He was a quarterback for Navy and won the Heisman Trophy in 1963. After graduation, he served for four years, including a tour in Vietnam. He then joined the Dallas Cowboys and had a Hall of Fame career. During his 11 seasons with the team, he won two Super Bowls.

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    Staubach was drafted by the Cowboys in 1964, but due to his service obligations, he did not start playing for the team until 1969.

    Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva played for Army from 2006 to 2009, earning All-American honors in his senior year. He then served in the Army for four years, including three tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor.

    After his service, Villanueva joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 as a defensive end but was cut before the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 as an offensive tackle and eventually became a starter and a Pro Bowler.

    Keenan Reynolds, who was a quarterback for Navy and threw for 1,203 yards and rushed for almost 1,400 yards in his senior season back in 2015, was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. He received a waiver to join the team under more relaxed rules from the Obama administration.

    However, a year later, the Pentagon reversed its decision under the new Trump administration. The military authority stated before the 2017 NFL Draft that it would not grant waivers in other cases.

    The most recent player to be drafted from Army or Navy is Malcolm Perry. The Navy QB was taken by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He produced nine receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown in his lone season before his release.

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