Yusuf Shakir was still in Tallahassee when he first heard about football's game-changing technology.
Shakir was the head football coach at Lincoln High when Erik Korem, who was Florida State University's speed and nutrition specialist at the time, helped usher a new way to evaluate players.
"I was watching them practice and I was like, 'Coach, what are those things they got on,' " Shakir recalled seeing in 2013 during the Seminoles' march toward a national championship.
FSU players were wearing a lightweight GPS system that sits underneath the shoulder pads and tracks their speed, effort and calories burned.
Later, while still at Lincoln, Shakir saw a presentation from DeSoto (Texas) High at a conference in Oregon about the technology.
Now in his second year as Manatee High's coach, Shakir has made the Hurricanes the first Florida high school to use the technology.
"You basically get to study your athletes and see who has run a lot and who hasn't run a lot," Shakir said. "A lot of times you see some players that maybe are gassed and you're like, 'Well, why are they gassed?' One of the examples they gave was (FSU's) Rashad Greene, the receiver. They felt like he was slow, but they looked and he had ran 7 miles in one day."
Through Booster Club support and private donations, Manatee joined the PlayerTek by Catapult family in mid-April just before spring football practices started.
The PlayerTek technology has the look and feel of an Under Armour shirt underneath the pads. It's that light, and it comes with a device tracking movements. That is monitored with a computer program or through a phone application.
"It's just a great way to study your kids and just a great way to understand how to practice," Shakir said. "That's my big thing. Young kids need to know how to practice."
PlayerTek gives Manatee High strength and conditioning coach Rich Lansky enough data to see who is working close to their capacity, which allows him to assess proper recovery methods, and the volume that's done on the field to apply that against the volume in the weight room.
"All stress is cumulative," Lansky said. "The body doesn't know whether they're doing power cleans or whether they're running up and down the field or whether they're playing basketball."
The GPS tracking system isn't the only technological upgrade Manatee made recently. The Canes are also wearing Riddell InSite football helmets. The InSite technology measures any time a player gets hit.
"If a kid says he has a headache, you can look at what play, how it happened, what happened and it also tracks the Gs — the force — that it was hit and tracked at that time," Shakir said. "Basically, anything dealing with any type of physical abnormalities, we can track."
Football has the most participants among any high school sport, though the sport suffered declines in participation numbers the past two seasons, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
With concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) prevalent in a collision or contact sport such as football, safety concerns aren't new in 2018.
Using the InSite helmets, which has a soft lining on the inside with a sensor to pick up data surrounding hits, Manatee High is taking safety steps that college and pro scouts can use later on.
"If you sign a kid from Manatee, you can track every single hit a kid had since ninth grade," Shakir said. "Basically, you create longitudinal data. And the thing about it is — the data — you have latitude and longitudinal, and then you have data that can really help you see cause and effect over a time period. So you can see intensity of hits and how the speed of the game changes the intensity of hits.
"... They study them in college and the pros, but they don't study high school kids. And this where you have the largest gap in talent. Because you've got people that are going to be future All-Americans and future Hall of Famers and then guys that won't ever play again another day in their life. So you have that large gap of talent, so you have to monitor to make sure you're putting kids in the safest position possible."
Manatee High isn't the only county public high school to join Riddell's InSite helmet team. Lakewood Ranch High recently signed up, and a presentation for parents and administrators is scheduled for Saturday.