Merril imagines a day when coaches can manage their players' hit total, in the same way baseball managers might hold a pitcher to a pitch count. Some Brain Sentry sensors can record the number of hits taken and their intensity, and the LSU Tigers football team used them this past season for research purposes.
A hallway at the Brain Sentry office bears the pictures of 27 youth players who have died or been severely injured while playing football.
"It keeps it real," Merril said. "Brain Sentry is a double bottom-line business. One bottom line is to make profit. The other bottom line is to save kids from catastrophic injuries and the long-term effects of brain injury."
The sensors used this weekend don't collect or store data, except to blink twice if a player has suffered a concussion for the second time since wearing it. The sensor can last a full season without being replaced and is being sold individually for $60 and in bulk for a team discount.
"It's laser focused on trying to support one question," Merril said. "Which players need to be assessed for a concussion?"
That question is at the forefront of coaches' minds, who can't see everything that happens on the field. If players can't always be trusted to know and report a concussion, a device that flashes for everyone on the sideline to see becomes invaluable.
South River head coach Lance Clelland, who was chosen to lead the Baltimore team in the All-Star game, said there are both practical difficulties and problems caused by old mentalities.
"It's a very tough injury to diagnose and a very tough injury to see," Clelland said. "We were told so long as football coaches that the tougher you are, the better you are, but that's not always the case."
For players like Devonte, football is important, but it isn't everything. The 16-year-old wants to play college ball and has gotten some interest locally, but his focus will shift to getting a degree and studying to become a computer technician.
Devonte said he hopes the sensors will be adopted by schools, and not just used sparingly at events like the All-Star game.
"My grandmother always told me not to put all my cookies in one basket," Devonte said. "I think it's a good idea to help out."