Top Priority for New NIU Football Coach Thomas Hammock Must Be Bowl Wins

thomas hammock

Thomas Hammock officially returned to Northern Illinois University after having spent the last five seasons as the running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens. As a player, Hammock rushed for 2,432 rushing yards in his NIU career (1999-2002), which still ranks 13th all-time in school history. The currently 37-year-old Hammock returned to DeKalb, to serve as running backs coach under Joe Novak during 2005-06.

In Hammock’s first season, future Chicago Bear Garrett Wolfe rushed for 1,580 yards and 16 touchdowns in just nine games as NIU won the MAC West Division and appeared in the MAC Championship Game for the first time. The next season, Wolfe rushed for an national high 1,928 yards as the Huskies reached the Poinsettia Bowl.

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NIU Huskies Win MAC Title; Furious Comeback in Championship Game

College Football 77 in 77: #74 NIU Huskies


From a mid-major standpoint, Northern Illinois University has become “Running Back U.” (Leshon Johnson, Garret Wolfe, Michael “the Burner” Turner, Chad Spann). Sure, only Michael Turner is the only one from that group to do anything in the NFL, but these rushers all dominated the collegiate level.

NIU will look to keep that running game going in spades this season, with mobile QB Chandler Harnish (although he’ll likely need to make more plays with his arm than he did in 2010, the Huskies were 85th in passing last year) with Jasmin Hopkins and Jamal Woble filling in for Spann.

It’s also a regime change campaign, as Jerry Kill parlayed his record setting 2010 (the Huskies won 11 for the first time ever in ’10) into a new gig leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It’s funny that I rate his old team higher than his new one, even though going from Dekalb to the Twin Cities, the MAC to the Big Ten, is a huge step up.

By Paul M. Banks

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lllinois vs. Northern Illinois: the Brutally Honest Game Preview


There’s an old adage in football that the biggest improvement a team makes is from the first week to the second. Your 2010 Illinois Fighting Illini are a true testament to this, especially starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. He grew up a ton last week. But they have two other playmakers on both sides of the ball:

Linebacker Ian Thomas and running back Mikel LeShoure. Both are rather overlooked because Illinois is well, kind of a….”basketball school.” But Thomas can be effective both inside and out, and LeShoure has topped the 100-yard mark in both games this season, going for 112 yards on 20 carries in the opener against Missouri and 15-115 yards on 15 carries last week against SIU.

Dating back to last season, Leshoure has topped 100 yards in three straight games and in five of his last eight. During that span, Leshoure has 798 yards on 114 carries (7.0 ypc).

By Paul M. Banks

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