Admittedly, when I heard the Ravens were on the verge of hiring Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock, I didn't know anything about him. The Ravens have been looking to poach a couple of young, bright assistants from the college ranks to round out their coaching staff, and Hammock fits the bill.
And while I still don't know much about him, it's hard to argue with his track record at Wisconsin.
Hammock, who once shared a backfield with Michael Turner at North Illinois, had been working with the Badgers backs since 2011. In each of those seasons, one of his running backs ranked in the top 10 in the nation in rushing yards. Sure, a lot of has to do with the kind of blue-collar run-first offensive philosophy that is prevalent in the Big Ten and Wisconsin's blue-chip offensive line, but still, it's pretty impressive.
In 2011, Badgers back Montee Ball led the Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,932 yards and he also had an NCAA-best 33 touchdowns. In 2012, Ball was third in the Div. I-FBS with 1,830 yards and he also scored 22 rushing touchdowns. That kind of production helped him get drafted in the second round last April by the Denver Broncos.
With Ball in the NFL this fall, Hammock's Wisconsin backs continued to churn out rushing yards. Both Melvin Gordon and James White ranked in the top 15 in Div. I-FBS in rushing, combining for 3,053 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. White, who reportedly had a strong week at the Senior Bowl, will be the next Badgers back drafted.
During Hammock's three years in Madison, the Badgers, who relied on outside and inside zone runs along with the power running game, ranked third nationally with 5.7 yards per carry. They were fourth with 121 rushing touchdowns and seventh in rushing yards with a 251.1 yards per game average, according to my colleague Aaron Wilson.
Plus, Hammock was the recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin and the assistant head coach, which suggests that the 32-year-old possesses charisma and the ability to relate to young men. That should come in handy in a running backs room with Ray Rice, a 27-year-old who has gone to three Pro Bowls, and Bernard Pierce, who will turn 24 in May.
The Ravens have yet to announce Hammock as running backs coach and obviously there is still a lot to learn about him, but he comes to Baltimore with some promise.