Caden was on the sidelines when Colorado State wide receiver George Hill ran to catch a touchdown pass during a spring scrimmage. Hill tried to stop himself, but the impact caused Caden to smash into a padded concrete wall. Hill said it happened in a split second.
"When I looked directly at him, I just fell straight to the ground and tried to stop my momentum," Hill, who has a 2-year-old daughter, told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "Being a parent, that's a scary scene right there."
"It was about third down and 10 and I had the feeling they were going to go to the fade route to the corner," said Caden's dad, Mike. "I put my hands out for my kids and he just got past me and connected with George."
Sitting up in the stands, Caden's mother, Holly, saw the commotion, but didn't see the actual play. She saw her husband hit the turf and knew immediately one of her children had been hurt.
"I just bolted down there as fast as I could and came on my bloody little child on the sidelines," she said.
The Thomases worried that their son was seriously injured or paralyzed, but all his neurological tests are fine. A lot of the credit goes to Hill, Mike Thomas said.
"George did a great job because we watched it frame by frame and there's subtle things that George did that dampened the blow, by bringing his head back at the last moment, getting his left arm wrapped around Caden at the right moment," he said. "If that hadn't happened, the head would have hit the concrete. We caught about the bottom six inches of that pad."
"At first, when I picked him up from the ground, I was making sure he was coherent," Hill said. "When he started crying, I finally realized he was alright and he was just bleeding from the head so I just handed him to the referee."
Hill said he tried to catch Caden and bring him into his own body so he wouldn't be pinned against the wall.
He brought Caden a special gift: a Colorado State jersey with Hill's number and Thomas written on the back. But Caden's parents say they might not have their son play football and maybe stick to soccer instead.