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Moats, Villanueva making the grade on and off the field

| Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 12:33 p.m.

The hour is late, the house is quiet, and the children are asleep.

Finally, Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats can get some work done. Or as he describes it, “get some extra homework in.”

He's not talking about studying film of the Denver Broncos' offense. By that time, Moats has separated from his football self and is working on school work.

He is one of two Steelers — the other is starting offensive left tackle Alejandro Villanueva — working on postgraduate degrees. Moats is seeking his Masters in Community and Economic Development from Empire State College in New York; Villanueva is working toward a Master of Business Administration degree at Carnegie Mellon.

When a reporter approached Moats in the Steelers locker room and asked about his academic pursuit, he smiled like he had just recorded three consecutive sacks of Peyton Manning.

“I'm three classes away (from earning his degree),” said Moats, who has an undergraduate degree in political science from James Madison. “It's a lot of hard work but something I feel I definitely need to get done.”

Moats plans to finish in the fall, and he said he hopes graduation day coincides with the Steelers' bye week. “Because I'm walking,” he said.

Moats, 27, hasn't decided what he'll do after football, but player development and the media intrigue him.

“I wanted to be a lawyer at first, but once I started playing football and was able to take it to this level, I got away from that.”

Moats, who does his work online, said he studies every other day during the week, writes papers on weekends and even takes work on the road during the season.

“As long as you manage your time the right way, you'll be able to accomplish some things,” he said.

He competes for playing time with rookie first-round draft choice Bud Dupree, but the real pressure surfaces when his grades arrive.

“You have to get As and Bs,” he said, “otherwise you get kicked out.”

Villanueva, 27, attends classes at CMU's Tepper School of Business on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and he often is there Saturdays after practice to review the week's work.

“I've always enjoyed learning,” said Villanueva, who earned an engineering degree from West Point. “That's the good thing about it. I open a book and I'm learning new things.”

Villanueva, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a highly decorated Army Ranger, isn't sure what he'll do at the end of the three-year program. He said the possibilities excite him.

“That's one of the things I'm learning at Tepper, the power of different things you can do,” he said. “I was in the military, so I don't know what the civilian life looks like from the outside world. I just know the organization of an army. I'm trying to learn what corporate America looks like.”

At 6-foot-9, 340 pounds, Villanueva stands out in a classroom or locker room, but he said he's not sure his instructor knows or cares that he plays football.

“Some of the students know I play football,” he said. “They like to talk about what happened during the games, but everybody in the class is extremely smart and talented. I bother them more about what they do (in the outside world) than they ask me about my career.

“They have more important things to worry about.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva plays against the Chiefs in October 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats puts a hit on Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck Sunday Dec. 6, 2015, at Heinz Field.
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