Wisconsin running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Thomas Hammock announced Wednesday he will leave the program to join the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff.

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said in his national signing day press conference Wednesday that Hammock was coaching the Badgers’ running backs at 6:30 a.m. this morning, but has since made the decision to pursue a career in the NFL.

“As he moves forward, this is something that Thomas has wanted for a long time,” Andersen said. “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 the decision that he has to make.”

Hammock started his coaching career with Wisconsin in 2003 as a graduate assistant. He then left Madison in 2005 to become the running backs coach at Northern Illinois for two seasons and then joined the University of Minnesota’s coaching staff in 2007 for the same position. Hammock rejoined Wisconsin in 2011.

As the running backs coach at Wisconsin, Hammock helped train Montee Ball, who tied Barry Sanders’ record for touchdowns in a season, and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Last season he worked with Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement, who, as a group, ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards per game.

During Hammock’s time with the Badgers, Wisconsin’s rushing attack ranked third nationally in rushing yards per attempt (5.7), fourth in rushing touchdowns (121) and seventh in rushing yards per game (251.1), while leading the Big Ten Conference in all of those categories.

As for who will take over for Hammock at Wisconsin, Andersen didn’t give any specific names, but gave an idea for the type of coach he is looking for.

“I look for two things,” Andersen said. “I look for someone who’s going to take care of the kids. That’s number one. And number two, somebody that can recruit. That’s what we’ll look for.”

Hammock will take over a Ravens running group highlighted by two-time all-pro running back Ray Rice and third year tailback Bernard Pierce.

Baltimore will look to Hammock to improve a running game that ranked 30th in yards per game and 32nd in yards per carry this season.

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