Another metro football player hanging up his jersey a sign of increased concussion awareness

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. -- The impact of college football can be brutal; just ask University of Kansas offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith who had to retire after suffering the latest in a series of concussions.

Shelley-Smith is the latest athlete to announce he's finished with the game -- unwilling to submit himself to the potential danger of head injuries any longer.

High school trainers and athletes tell FOX 4 they're also working to keep their heads safe.

To some degree -- the nature of contact sports leads to impact. And some injuries are more serious than sprained ankles. Shelley-Smith had seen enough. Last Thursday's game against Texas Tech proved to be the last for the Jayhawk offensive lineman.

At the high school level -- players such as Park Hill defensive lineman Landon Browns understand Shelley-Smith's decision. Three years ago -- as a ninth grader -- Browns landed on his head after taking a hard hit.

“Right off the bat, I felt automatic -- like my neck was numb and stiff,” he recalled.

Browns was out of action for three weeks -- taking the impact testing required to come back to football once he'd fully recovered.

“I don't personally blame him for wanting to stop playing. If he did decide to continue playing, that's on him as well,” he said.

Kevin Rash is one of three licensed athletic trainers at Park Hill High School. He says the school puts its highest priority on player safety -- and when young athletes see college and pro stars getting concussed -- it makes a mark.

“Maybe it lets them think that if I do have a symptom, I need to tell somebody. I can't hide it. I need to tell one of our trainers or coaches so that protocol can be followed and players are safe,” Rash said.

FOX 4’s Sean McDowell spoke with Jason West -- who works with the governing body for Missouri high school sports.

He says the diagnosis of concussions during football games is still a top priority -- and heightened awareness of symptoms is helping trainers succeed.