BALTIMORE- The Baltimore Ravens have hired Thomas Hammock as their running backs coach, head coach John Harbaugh announced Thursday.
"Take a look at Thomas' college resume. It's impressive, and it's clear he can teach, coach and help players become better," Harbaugh stated. "He's an impressive person, and we're looking forward to seeing him coach our players."
An 11-year collegiate coaching veteran, Hammock joins the NFL ranks after spending the past three seasons (2011-13) as the University of Wisconsin's assistant head coach/running backs coach/recruiting coordinator. Prior to his time with the Badgers, he coached at the University of Minnesota from 2007-10, serving as its running backs coach all four seasons and also as co-offensive coordinator in 2010. Hammock guided the running backs at his alma mater, Northern Illinois, from 2005-06 following two years (2003-04) as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin.
"The opportunity to coach at the highest level – and that's what the NFL is – excites me," Hammock said. "To come to an organization that is committed to winning and has a coaching staff that is so respected is a tremendous opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting started.
"Working with coach Harbaugh, learning the offense and working with coach [Gary] Kubiak, and then coaching these outstanding Ravens players, is special. I feel very honored and fortunate to be here. My wife and I and our two children are looking forward to being part of the Baltimore community."
During Hammock's three seasons as Wisconsin's running backs coach, the Badgers ranked third nationally in rushing yards per attempt (5.7), fourth in rushing touchdowns (121) and seventh overall in rushing yards per game (251.1 ypg), with each category also leading the Big Ten during this span.
Impressively, Badger running backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark 40 times over the last three years, producing the most 100-yard games of any team in the country since 2011. In 2013, Wisconsin set a single-season school record with 3,689 rushing yards and ranked eighth nationally after averaging 283.8 rushing yards per game. The Badgers totaled 235.6 rushing yards per game in 2011 – the country's 11th-best mark – and ran for 236.4 yards per contest in 2012, ranking 13th nationally.
In his first year (2011) coaching running backs at Wisconsin, Hammock helped Montee Ball lead the nation in rushing yards (1,923) and tie Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season touchdowns record (39). For his outstanding efforts, Ball was named a Heisman Trophy finalist that year. In 2012, Ball became the NCAA's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (77) and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back, producing 1,830 rushing yards and 22 ground scores.
After Ball was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Wisconsin's running game continued to flourish behind senior James White, sophomore Melvin Gordon and true freshman Corey Clement. Gordon and White each earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while Gordon was named a semifinalist for both the Maxwell Award (nation's top player) and Doak Walker Award. Impressively, Gordon (1,609) and White (1,444) set the all-time NCAA record for rushing yards by a pair of teammates in a season, combining for 3,053 yards. The tandem made Wisconsin the nation's only team to produce multiple running backs that averaged more than 100 yards per game.
Hammock has coached the country's leading rusher twice during his career. In addition to Ball's output in 2011, Hammock guided Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe, who in 2006, registered an NCAA-best 1,928 rushing yards (148.3 ypg). Wolfe concluded his collegiate career as the NCAA's all-time leader in yards per carry (6.40 – minimum 780 rushes) and fourth in career rushing (156.5 ypg). Chosen by the Chicago Bears in the 2007 NFL Draft's third round, Wolfe is one of four players in college football history to post at least 1,500 rushing yards in three different seasons.
During his collegiate playing career at Northern Illinois, Hammock finished ninth on the school's all-time rushing list (2,432 yards). He ran for 1,083 yards as a sophomore in 2000 – the nation's 12th most – and produced 1,095 rushing yards as a junior in 2001. Hammock's senior campaign was derailed due to a potentially life-threatening heart condition in 2002. Though he was forced to stop playing, he became a student coach for NIU that year and helped Michael Turner tally 1,915 rushing yards, setting a MAC single-season record.
Hammock earned his bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois in 2002 and a master's from Wisconsin in 2004. He and his wife, Cheynnitha, have a daughter, Tierra, and a son, Thomas Douglas.