Northern Illinois taps alum from Ravens staff Thomas Hammock as next coach

Northern Illinois has decided to keep it in the family for its next head coaching hire, set to name Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Thomas Hammock as the replacement for Rod Carey. Hammock was a 1,000-yard rusher during his sophomore and junior season when he played for the Huskies from 1999 to 2002. 

The school announced the news in a press release on Friday morning.

"This is a huge hire," athletic director Sean T. Frazier said. "To be able to bring back a part of our tradition, particularly from the Novak era, and really unite all of our Huskies, and quite frankly, have someone who's iconic in our history books, is fantastic. I've known Thomas for a while, even before coming to NIU. He's always talked about NIU, The Hard Way, the tradition, the hard work, and the grit. All those things make it special to make this hire." 

Hammock, 37, has been the running backs coach for the Ravens since 2014, but prior to his NFL experience, he spent more than a decade as an assistant at the college ranks. He carried the title of assistant head coach and running backs coach at Wisconsin from 2011-13, leading a room that included the likes of Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon. That followed gigs at Minnesota, where he was eventually promoted to offensive coordinator, and a two-year stint as running backs coach at NIU from 2005-06. 

"I can't describe it," Hammock said. "It's an unbelievable feeling to have the opportunity to come home to a place that I love, to the school that has meant so much to me. I can't wait to get started with the players and have a chance to put a product on the field that the alumni and fans will be proud of." 

President Lisa Freeman added her thoughts to the return of Hammock to Dekalb.

"I'm just delighted we're hiring someone who is such a true Husky and understands the power of NIU to transform lives," she said. "He wants to bring that experience to our student-athletes and all of our students. He'll make a great head coach. I can't wait to introduce him to the community."

Carey left the program last week when he was hired by Temple to replace Manny Diaz, who had only held that job for less than a month before returning to Miami as the Hurricanes new head coach. It was the end of a long run that started as an assistant in 2008 before he was promoted to replace Dave Doeren. In Carey's six years as a head coach, NIU won four division titles, two conference championships and was named the MAC Coach of the Year in 2013. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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