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UW's Hammock joins Ravens before Packers can act

Feb 05, 2014 -- 7:32pm
The Packers were very interested in University of Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock but waited to interview him and lost out.

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers lost out Wednesday on the man they had pegged as their next running backs coach when University of Wisconsin assistant Thomas Hammock was hired by the Baltimore Ravens.

An NFL source said the Packers wanted to interview Hammock for their vacant running backs coaching job but did not want to do so before Wednesday’s national signing day out of respect for UW. The source said the interview would have been little more than a formality given the high opinion the Packers had of Hammock.

The Packers are in the market for a running backs coach after quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo left to become the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator and running backs coach Alex Van Pelt slid over to coach QBs. Van Pelt’s job change has not yet been announced by the club.

While the Packers waited, the Ravens interviewed and hired Hammock, who broke the news to his players on Wednesday. Hammock interviewed with the Ravens last week.

Hammock’s hiring by the Ravens to coach their running backs was initially reported by and confirmed by UW coach Gary Andersen during his national signing day news conference. Hammock served as the Badgers’ running backs coach, assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

The 32-year-old Hammock spent three seasons in Madison and was one of only two holdovers on Andersen’s staff after he replaced now-Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. Andersen told reporters in Madison that Hammock was in early on Wednesday with his players.

“It was important for Thomas to be able to get in front of his players and communicate with them. It was a very difficult decision, but Thomas has made that decision,” Andersen said. "This is something that Thomas has wanted for a long time. Some people want to coach professional football. It's been a driving force of his for quite a few years, and it's where he sees the best spot for him and his family, which I have the utmost respect for."

During his time in Madison, Hammock coached current Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and set the NCAA career touchdown record; and James White and Melvin Gordon, who led Wisconsin to school record 3,689 rushing yards last season.

Hammock, who previously coached at the University of Minnesota (running backs, co-offensive coordinator) and North Illinois (running backs), rushed for 2,432 yards as a running back at NIU, where he was paired in the backfield with future NFL running back Michael Turner.

Wisconsin signed three running backs in its recruiting class Wednesday: Taiwan Deal of Capitol Heights, Md.; Caleb Kinlaw of Goose Creek, S.C.; and Ula Tolutau of Glendale, Utah.

Wrote Hammock on his Twitter account: “Coach Andersen is 1st class in every aspect of coaching. I learned a lot from him and truly appreciate everything he has done for my Family. To my players I love all you guys and really enjoyed working with you & helping you develop. It's been the best 3 years of my career so far. To the fans of Wisconsin you guys are simply the best. On Wisconsin!!!"

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