Feb. 6, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The man who has overseen a record-setting era for running backs at Wisconsin is moving on.
After three seasons as the running backs coach for the Badgers, Thomas Hammock has accepted the same position with the Baltimore Ravens.
“Baltimore has won two Super Bowls and, professionally, this was a great opportunity for me to move forward in my coaching career,” Hammock said. “I'm excited about the challenge of coaching in the NFL and competing at the highest level.”
While the decision to leave Madison was not an easy one for Hammock, he expects his transition to the pro game to be eased by the fact that Baltimore features what he calls a similar philosophy to UW’s.
“The University of Wisconsin and the Baltimore Ravens both exemplify great leadership and organizational structure and are very similar in their style of play with a focus on being tough, physical, playing great defense and having the ability to run the football,” he said.
“This is something that Thomas has wanted for a long time,” UW head coach Gary Andersen said during his Signing Day news conference Wednesday. "Some people want to coach professional football. It has been a driving force of his for quite a few years and it is where he sees the best spot for him and his family, which I have the utmost respect for, the decision that he has to make.”
|“He has meant a lot to Wisconsin,” Andersen said of Hammock. “And let me just say this: Wisconsin means a lot to Thomas Hammock and it always will.”
During Hammock's three years as Wisconsin's running backs coach, the Badgers ranked third nationally in rushing yards per attempt at 5.7, fourth in rushing touchdowns with 121 and seventh overall in rushing at 251.1 yards per game -- leading the Big Ten in all three categories.
"He has meant a lot to Wisconsin,” Andersen said. “And let me just say this: Wisconsin means a lot to Thomas Hammock and it always will.”
Hammock coached Montee Ball for two seasons and helped the Heisman Trophy finalist and Doak Walker Award winner set the NCAA record for total touchdowns (83) and rushing TDs (77) while becoming just the 17th player in NCAA history to rush for 5,000 yards in a career.
A consensus first-team All-American in both his seasons under Hammock, Ball was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 when he tied Barry Sanders’ single-season FBS record for touchdowns with 39.
In 2013, Hammock oversaw a rushing attack that featured James White and Melvin Gordon -- a duo that combined to rush for more yards in a season (3,053) than any teammate tandem in history.
Gordon is the NCAA's active career leader in yards per rushing attempt at 8.1 yards per carry. He enters the 2014 season needing just 12 attempts to reach 300 and be eligible to break the Big Ten record of 7.27.
“To my players, I will miss being with you guys and I appreciate all your hard work and dedication and I expect greatness in 2014,” Hammock said.
Along with Gordon, the Badgers return tailback Corey Clement, who rushed for 547 yards on just 67 carries (8.2 average) in his freshman season, and fullback Derek Watt, who enters his third season as a starter.
UW also added three running backs on National Signing Day in Taiwan Deal, Caleb Kinlaw and Ula Tolutau.
“I want to thank Coach Alvarez, Coach Bielema and Coach Andersen for the awesome opportunity to spend the past three years learning and growing as a coach that helped prepare me for the next chapter of my coaching career,” Hammock said. “This past season has been my most positive experience, and Coach Andersen and his staff will continue to move Wisconsin forward.
“Wisconsin is poised to continue to do tremendous things both on and off the field. I am a Wisconsin alum and will forever be a Badger. On, Wisconsin”