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Northern Illinois hires Thomas Hammock as head coach

The Baltimore Ravens running backs coach takes the gig at his alma mater.

NCAA Football: Boca Raton Bowl-UAB vs Northern Illinois Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On January 10, former Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey officially departed the Midwest for a head coaching position at Temple. Seven days later, the Huskies’ postseason coaching search is finalized.

Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Thomas Hammock will become the 23rd head coach of Northern Illinois football, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. The 37-year old played running back for the Huskies from 1999-02, recording two 1,000-yard seasons, 2,628 yards from scrimmage, and 25 total touchdowns. A heart condition cut Hammock’s career short and he only saw action in one game during his senior campaign.

After serving as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin, Hammock returned to DeKalb to become the Huskies’ running backs coach from 2005-06. In those two seasons, Hammock coached NIU legend Garrett Wolfe, who rushed for 3,508 yards and 34 touchdowns in Hammock’s two seasons as the position coach. Wolfe led the entire FBS in rushing yards in 2006 with 1,928.

Hammock built on his success at Minnesota and Wisconsin, continuing to coach All-American running backs including Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon. In 2014, Hammock landed a job in the NFL with the Ravens. In John Harbaugh’s stable coaching staff, Hammock remained in Baltimore five seasons until fulfilling his first head coaching role at NIU.

Hammock is reunited with Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier. The pair worked together at Wisconsin from 2011-13, qualifying for two Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls in the time span. Other candidates considered included SMU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane, NIU offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich, and Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory, per Rittenberg.

The former Ravens staffer is one of eight FBS head coaches hired this offseason under the age of 40 and is the 26th — and final, for the time being — vacancy filled this offseason.

Northern Illinois will introduce its newest head coach at Huskie Stadium on August 31, when the team battles Illinois State of the FCS.