HOUSTON -- A University of Houston football player projected as a top NFL Draft pick took time to thank the firefighters who saved his life back in November.

D.J. Hayden, a cornerback for UH, could have very well lost his life after taking a hard hit on the football field.

Hayden and his mother went to Houston Fire Department Station 18 on Tuesday to thank the paramedics they credit for saving his life.

It's awesome, rarely do people come back and give thanks for the job we do, said paramedic Bobby Delgado.

During a practice in November, Hayden took a helmet to the chest.

When emergency crews arrived, Hayden was sweating and cold to touch. He had no visible injuries, but paramedics, Bobby Delgado and Kevin Zigal, knew something was wrong.

The look on his face, his body reaction, we knew it was something very serious, said paramedic Kevin Zigal.

The impact of the helmet tore a main vessel to Hayden's heart. Doctors said there was a 3 percent chance of survival.

Nothing is guaranteed, said Hayden. This whole world is not guaranteed. I just thank God that I'm here. I just want to live out my plan for him.

After months of rehab, Hayden not only recovered, but he s made an incredible comeback.

On Thursday, he's expected to be one of the top picks in the 2013 NFLDraft.

I'm not going to feel complete until I actually make the team, said Hayden. When I actually make the team and I'm suiting up for game day, that's when it's going to hit me.

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