His coach called it a routine tackle, but the injury it caused for Seth Haynes has been anything but routine.

The Roane County High School sophomore snapped his third vertebrae and ripped ligaments in his neck during a game last Friday.It happened on the opening drive of the Kingston Yellowjacket's game.

"The potential of a devastating neurologic injury was there," said Haynes' neurosurgeon at UT Medical Center, Dr. Richard Boyer.

Dr. Boyer said scans show that he was millimeters away from death or paraylsis.

Injuries to the third vertebrae often don't make it to Dr. Boyer's operating table.

"We don't see those people. They die in the field before they ever get to the hospital because they can't breathe long enough, people can't get to them fast enough to survive that," Dr. Boyer said.

A 16-year-old Atlanta football player died from breaking the same bone during a tackle in August.

But Seth's break was different.

"That's what saved his spinal cord is that the bone split apart sideways rather than going back into his spinal cord," he said.

Dr. Boyer performed a five and a half hour surgery Saturday, using a metal piece and Seth's broken bones, to put him back together.

Five days since the surgery, Seth is sitting up, walking around, and even hanging out with his teammates.

"He's made great strides-- quicker than most people do," said Dr. Boyer.

Dr. Boyer says while he won't be able play football again or any contact sport, he should be able to perform normal activities like running and swimming.

He is expected to be released from the hospital as soon as Friday.

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