METAMORA - Metamora High School junior Erik Inman is a key part of the varsity football team.
In his first season starting on defense, Inman, 16, is already known for laying "the big hit."
"Someone will be like 'oh, you just hit this kid really hard,' and then I don't notice it. And the next day we watch it in film, and I guess I did," Inman said.
But not all collisions have gone in Inman's favor. On September 21, in a game against Dunlap High, he took a devastating blow to the head.
"It goes from me hitting the kid to me laying like, laying on the ground, and my entire body was tingling and stuff like that. And I was kinda' numb and couldn't feel anything else," he said.
Inman collided head-to-head while attempting to tackle an opposing player. He remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field by medical professionals. Inman suffered a concussion.
"It happens and I just hoped it's not too bad because I want to get back on the field as soon as possible," he said.
For three days, he had headaches and couldn't focus. He had trouble reading his homework.
According to the CDC, 300,000 sports-related concussions happen annually in the nation. Dr. Tim Kaufman, lead sports physician at Metamora High, said schools are taking stories like Inman's more serious than ever.
"When we started covering Metamora in 1995, we didn't follow the same standards we follow today. And it's become more aware and more research about how important it is," he said.
According to Kaufman, new series of tests have made it easier to identify concussions.
"The tests are to test their balance, their cognitive functions, like memory and maybe some basic mathematical questions, memorizing a few words," he said.
Now, state law prevents any athlete suspected of having a concussion from playing until being cleared by a licensed physician.
"So if you wake up the next day and you still have a headache, you don't go to practice. You don't go to film study. You don't do your homework. You just totally get complete quiet and rest your brain," Kaufman said.
There's no specific amount of time players are required to sit-out. Erik was cleared in five days. One week after his concussion, he played in a game.
"I know it could hurt you down the road, but as long as it's not affecting me too badly, I probably won't think about quitting."
According to Kaufman, younger players who experience concussion are more likely to endure long-term effects. This was Inman's second concussion in three years. He suffered a concussion in a football during his freshman year of high school. According to Kaufman, medical procedures do not change for multiple concussions. However, if Inman received another concussion, Kaufman said he would spend more time off away from the sport.