A Bloomington Jefferson High School ninth-grader who was paralyzed after playing in a freshman football game Sept. 2 has been breathing without a ventilator since Monday.

His first words: "Roll tide."

Ethan Glynn became paralyzed from the shoulders down from a severe neck and spinal cord injury suffered during a tackle in a home game against Chaska. His family said last week that a recent surgery went well, and he has been using a communication board to tell medical staff and his family how he is feeling, according to CaringBridge updates from his parents, Cassidy Durkin and Corey Glynn.

"Never have we been so excited to hear the words 'roll tide,' " read the latest CaringBridge update. "Today they removed (Ethan) from the vent and those were the first words out of his mouth."

"The smile and twinkle in his eyes is priceless," it read.

On Saturday, Ethan watched a University of Alabama football game — whose celebratory cheer is "roll tide" — and his family described it on the health blog "like being at home again with football on TV all day."

"He still has a long journey but this week is off to a great start!" the post said.

Ethan's parents said the boy had a quiet weekend and got some much-needed rest, according to the post.

"Ethan continues to amaze everyone with his grit and determination," they wrote.

Ethan previously underwent a 7½-hour operation to "remove and fix vertebrae in his neck," read an earlier update.

A close friend of the 15-year-old's parents said Ethan's father was at the game and explained that the injury occurred during "a normal play," with Ethan playing defensive back.

"He got low, and the other guy got low," said John Frein, who spoke with Ethan's father Monday night. "It was just a weird angle. It looked harmless. … The stars aligned just right for that to happen."