Ask any coach and they will tell you it's their responsibility to do whatever they can to keep their players safe on the field. WDBJ7 New River Valley reporter Orlando Salinas has a story about a strength coach who's been called a "renegade researcher"
A couple years back I met a guy who looked like the "Hulk.' Turned out that Dr. Ralph Cornwell was a Virginia Tech graduate and had worked as a strength coach for the Washington Redskins.
Dr. Cornwell said he'd designed a "head and neck isolator" machine that had been proven to cut back on concussions. Our crew was there Friday, as his first machine was delivered to Blacksburg.
It's taken years, Cornwell said, to get this machine to market. Athletes can have the best helmets possible, but that's not enough.
"I mean, Virginia Tech does make a very good helmet but the brain is still moving inside the helmet."
Cornwell has teamed up with physicists, strength coaches and NFL trainers who say working the head and neck muscles are maybe more important than any other.
Just a few days ago, Mike Bradley, the basketball strength coach at Florida State University, bought one of Cornwell's machines.
"There's an enormous amount of value in the machine. It's critically important to be able to train your neck even in a sport like basketball. We get our share of head and neck injuries and concussions."
Cornwell said he's reached out to the Virginia Tech football team and offered to supply his machines, but was turned down.
A handful of college programs have invested in his invention.
Cornwell said the head and neck machine trains athletes to work several muscles in the head and neck area that are often overlooked.
Dave Nelson is the football coach at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota. He just bought six of Cornwell's machines.
"I don't know what the percentage is of high school programs or college programs across the country focus on strength and neck. I don't know in college programs which one's do, but it is a priority and those muscles can be strengthened."
Cornwell said he reached out to Blackburg High School's new athletic director and offered to supply the machines and train student-athletes for free, but was told "No thanks."
"Every school that we've been involved with, changed. It's a paradigm shift. The head and neck is the most important thing because it doesn't matter how fast you can run, how much you can bench press, how much you can squat."
Dr. Cornwell said he leaves for Montana in a few weeks to train another high school football team about the importance of strengthening the head and neck.
Cornwell said his offer still stands to let Blacksburg High School use his machines for free.