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Five things to know about new Bills LB Tanner Vallejo

1. He plays for his little brother. When Hunter Vallejo was just 6 months old, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Vallejo's father, Rick, said Hunter had just a 2-percent chance of survival. Despite those odds, Hunter Vallejo beat cancer, and now serves as his older brother's inspiration.

"He’s 17, going on 18. But with all the hardware and tubes that ran through his head and neck, he can’t play football so I just carry a huge chip on my shoulder and feel like when I’m playing, he’s with me playing," Tanner Vallejo said.

Vallejo's older brothers, Cody and Zach, both were middle linebackers in high school, while Rick was a college linebacker at Shasta College.

2. He's coming back from injury. Vallejo played with braces on both arms during his senior year before eventually having surgery on his right wrist in November. "You might as well throw out this year because the guy was in a ton of pain all year long. It was obvious that something was wrong early in the year," an NFC scout told for Vallejo's scouting report.

Vallejo still managed to make 69 tackles in nine games, and was an All-Mountain West Conference honorable-mention selection.

He said Saturday he's been fully cleared and is healthy.

"Now that I’m fully cleared, just getting into tip-top shape so I can come in and contribute to the Bills," Vallejo said.

3. His best season came as a sophomore. Vallejo led the team with 100 tackles (16.5 for loss), three sacks, one interception and four pass breakups, garnering second-team All-Mountain West accolades and winning MVP awards for the Mountain West championship game (13 tackles, interception return for a touchdown) and Fiesta Bowl (14 tackles, 1.5 sacks).

For his career, he played in 46 games with 275 tackles (35 for loss), 5.5 sacks and one interception.

Vallejo ranked No. 2 among all FBS linebackers in Pro Football Focus' rankings in 2014, but injuries and missed tackles dropped him down the last two years. "I hate going all the way back to his sophomore year but I think you have to at least look at that tape to get a feel for who he might be able to become," the NFC scout told

4. Sean McDermott likes what he can do on special teams. Like with any player drafted in the sixth round, Vallejo's best chance at making the roster will come if he can show he's a contributor on special teams.

"Part of your identity comes from special teams in terms of the toughness, how relentless you are on special teams," McDermott said. "There’s a lot to be gained from that."

5. He knew all about "Bills Mafia" before getting drafted. During one of Vallejo's pre-draft meetings with the Bills, one of the team's scouts (Matt Hand) explained the culture of the fans in Western New York -- particularly "how crazy they are," Vallejo said. "I'm excited to experience it myself."

Vallejo said he had a good meeting with Bills linebackers coach Bob Babich at the NFL Scouting Combine, and that the two sides stayed in touch from that point.

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