NIU hires Ravens assistant Thomas Hammock as new head coach

Northern Illinois has hired Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Thomas Hammock as its head coach, the school announced Friday.

Hammock is a former star running back for NIU who later served as a Huskies assistant coach. He coached running backs at NIU in 2005 and 2006 and also held posts at Minnesota and Wisconsin before joining the Ravens in 2014. This is his first head-coaching position.

SMU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane, who held the same position at NIU before joining the Mustangs in 2018, was a finalist for the job, according to sources. NIU also spoke with Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory, NIU offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and others about its coaching vacancy.

Hammock, 37, takes over for Rod Carey, who last week left to become head coach at Temple.

With the Ravens, Hammock continually got the best out of under-the-radar running backs. Terrance West rushed for a career-high 774 yards in 2016, and Alex Collins produced a personal-best 973 yards rushing in 2017. Last season, undrafted rookie Gus Edwards was the NFL's third-leading rusher in the final seven games of the regular season, gaining 654 yards rushing and scoring two touchdowns.

Hammock was part of a Baltimore rushing offense that averaged 190 yards on the ground in five straight games last year. The last NFL team to achieve that feat was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

ESPN's Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.