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Player's death brings football safety into focus

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Creekside High School player DeAntre Turman died after suffering a neck injury during a preseason game on Friday. Creekside High School player DeAntre Turman died after suffering a neck injury during a preseason game on Friday.

The death of a high school football player will likely spawn a renewed focus on safety at games.

Creekside High School player DeAntre Turman died after suffering a neck injury during a preseason game on Friday.

Ralph Swearngin is the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, the volunteer organization that sets the standard for interschool athletics in the state. He helped write the national rules for high school football.

"For several terms, I chaired the Injury Safety Subcommittee. So, I've been involved in taking a look at the evolution of the national playing rules," said Swearngin.

One of the changes Swearngin helped usher in is a renewed emphasis on the prevention of concussions and neck injuries. "Heads Up Football" is one of those initiatives.

Videos are used to instruct high school football players the proper way to block and tackle.

"Originally, Heads Up Football was designed to prevent head and neck injuries," said Swearngin.

Georgia schools have been teaching Heads Up Football techniques for years.

In DeAntre's case, witnesses tell school officials that the rising football star did have his head up during the scrimmage play that killed him.

Swearngin says despite an athlete's best intentions, there is no technique or safety equipment that can completely protect them.

"Proper technique is essential, but sometimes even with proper technique, bad things can happen," said Swearngin.

The Georgia High School Association is conducting its own investigation into the death of Turman to determine if anything could have been done to prevent it. Its findings will also be submitted to the National Federation of State High School Associations for analysis.

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