Allegheny tabs Hammer head coach

More news about: Allegheny | Wabash

Boasting a resume that includes over a decade of coaching experience and a star-studded playing career, B.J. Hammer has been named head football coach at Allegheny.

Hammer comes to Allegheny after spending the past five seasons as the defensive coordinator at fellow North Coast Athletic Conference member Wabash, and replaces Mark Matlak, who retired at the end of the 2015 campaign after 14 years as the Gators' head coach.

"I'm really thankful for the opportunity, and excited to get started," Hammer said. "For a long time, I've known all about the Allegheny tradition, both athletically and academically, but I had never really seen the campus until my interview. I was blown away during my tour. This is a great-looking campus, and an easy place to sell. Everyone I met was so friendly and welcoming, and there was a lot of excitement surrounding our football program and the athletic department in general. It was easy to see that Allegheny is a place that wants to return to its winning ways, and I am thrilled to have the chance to lead the football program back on top."

"B.J. Hammer's experiences at top tier academic and athletic institutions helped him stand out in an extremely strong candidate pool," said Allegheny athletic director Portia Hoeg. "I am thrilled to have him lead our Gator football program. His leadership, proven record of success, extensive knowledge of the game, tremendous work ethic, and vast recruiting network are just a few of the qualities he brings to rebuilding our program. I am confident he will help lead Gator football to new levels of success, both on and off the gridiron."

At Wabash, Hammer led a defensive unit that consistently ranked among NCAA Division III's best. During his five-year tenure, the Little Giants posted a record of 51-7, making three appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs and winning NCAC championships in 2011 and 2015. He mentored the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year in four of his five seasons as defensive coordinator, while 22 Wabash defenders were First Team All-NCAC honorees, and four were named All-America.

In 2015, the Little Giants finished 12-1, including a perfect 8-0 in the NCAC, and advanced to the third round of the NCAA playoffs. Hammer's defense ranked third nationally with 26 interceptions, fourth in rushing defense (72.2 yds/g), fifth in total defense (240.9 yds/g), and seventh in quarterback sacks (42). Eight Little Giant defenders earned All-NCAC honors, including six first team selections, highlighted by defensive tackle Tyler McCullen, who was named the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year and a D3football.com All-American. Wabash ended the year ranked seventh in the D3football.com Top 25.

In 2014, Hammer was named a Division III Coordinator of the Year finalist after his unit led Division III in rushing defense (66.3 yds/g) and quarterback sacks (4.6 sacks/g), while ranking third in total defense, fifth in tackles for loss, and 12th in scoring defense. Little Giant linebacker Cody Buresh was named the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year and All-America by both D3football.com and the AFCA.

The 2013 Wabash defense led the nation in total defense (220.7 yds/g), fumbles recovered (19), and turnover margin (+24), while placing second in tackles for loss (11.6 TFL/g) and rushing defense (63.1). In 2012, the Little Giants placed eighth nationally in scoring defense and 10th in rushing defense, while linebacker CJ Gum earned the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year award for a second straight season.

In his first season as the Wabash defensive coordinator, the Little Giants ranked fifth in the nation in rushing defense (78.1 yds/g), 11th in scoring defense (12.9 pts/g), and 12th in total defense (249.4 yds/g), while they paced the NCAC in every defensive statistical category. In addition to Gum being named the conference's top defender, linebacker AJ Akinribade was named NCAC Newcomer of the Year.

Prior to his five-year tenure at Wabash, Hammer spent eight seasons on the football staff at Whittier. After working as the Poets' defensive coordinator from 2003-05, Hammer was promoted to head coach, a position he held from 2006-10. Hammer rebuilt a program that had just 13 players on its roster in 2003 to one that averaged a roster size of over 100. Thirty Whittier players were named All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Whitter defense ranked second in the conference in total defense in 2006, and its rushing offense ranked second in the SCIAC in both 2009 and 2010.

Before his stint in California, Hammer spent the 2002 season as the linebackers coach at Heidelberg, after beginning his coaching career in 2001 as the outside linebackers coach at Wabash.

Hammer graduated from Wabash in 2001, and is regarded as one of the top defenders to ever suit up for the Little Giants. He graduated as the school's record holder for tackles for loss in a game (five), season (23), and career (58), as well as single-season sacks (15), while he is tied with younger brother Blair as the Little Giants' all-time record holder in career sacks with 27.5. Team captain in 2000, Hammer was a two-time All-American and three-time all-conference honoree, and was named the 2001 Pete Vaughn Award, which is given annually to the top Wabash senior athlete as voted upon by the athletic department.

A native of Carmel, Ind., Hammer and wife Emily are the parents of daughters Layla and Ellie, and son William.

"I plan on jumping into everything right away," said Hammer. "I'm looking forward to really getting to know our staff while our players are still on break, and then get going on recruiting. I can't start soon enough."

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