Kane Wommack has quickly ascended the IU coaching ranks.
Back in January, the Springfield, Missouri native was hired by head coach Tom Allen as the so-called 10th assistant. The opening was created by an NCAA rule change that went into effect that same month.
Wommack coached the IU linebackers in 2018, but he has a history as a defensive coordinator, and a history with Allen as well. Prior to joining the Hoosiers, the Southern Mississippi graduate was the defensive coordinator at South Alabama, and held the same role before that at Eastern Illinois.
During Wommack’s two seasons in Mobile, South Alabama was the 13th-most improved scoring defense (-10.8) and rushing defense (-69.2) in the nation. He was the youngest defensive coordinator in the FBS at the time, and is still just 31 years old.
Similar to Allen’s initial season at IU in 2016, Wommack engineered one of the top turnarounds in the country. The unit was the fifth-most improved nationally in scoring defense (-10.3), one spot behind IU, and ranked in the top 10 nationally in passing defense.
It comes as no coincidence that Wommack and Allen connected at IU and have similar defensive philosophies. Kane worked with Allen as an Ole Miss graduate assistant in 2012-13 when Allen was the linebackers coach for the Rebels under defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, Kane’s father.
The younger Wommack coached the husky position at Ole Miss, a staple in Allen’s 4-2-5 defensive attack.
As a player, Wommack played two years as a fullback at Arkansas, and three years as a fullback/tight end at Southern Mississippi.
Allen, who has hinted at his relinquishing of the coordinator role on multiple occasions since the end of the 2018 season, discussed the move in the full release from the school:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Tom Allen announced today that linebackers coach Kane Wommack will take over as the program’s defensive coordinator. Allen has served in that capacity since 2016. Wommack will continue to oversee the linebackers.
“Without question, Kane Wommack is ready for this opportunity,” Allen said. “I have tremendous confidence in him and his understanding of our entire defense, from the front to the back. I will still be heavily involved, but Kane will take over the play-calling responsibilities, the organization of our defensive staff and all that we do on that side of the ball.”
Wommack’s familiarity with Allen and the 4-2-5 scheme make him a perfect fit. The youngest FBS defensive coordinator at the University of South Alabama in (2016-17) and the defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois University (2014-15) prior to that, Wommack worked with Allen as an Ole Miss graduate assistant (2012-13). Allen worked as linebackers coach under defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, Kane’s father, and ran the 4-2-5 system.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead our defense alongside Mark Hagen, Brandon Shelby and Kasey Teegardin,” Wommack said. “Working for a passionate leader in Coach Allen motivates our coaches and players daily to unlock their greatest individual potentials. Collectively our defense will function as a highly-efficient unit, emboldened to take on the challenges of the Big Ten. Our players are fierce and disciplined competitors, and I am honored and extremely psyched to be their defensive coordinator. My family and I appreciate Coach Allen and Fred Glass entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity.”
Wommack also served as South Alabama’s linebackers coach in 2016 and 2017. In those two seasons, USA was the 13th-most improved scoring defense (-10.8) and rushing defense (-69.2) in the nation.
As Allen did with the Indiana defense in 2016, Wommack engineered one of the top turnarounds in the country. The unit was the fifth-most improved nationally in scoring defense (-10.3), one spot behind the Hoosiers, and ranked in the top 10 nationally in passing defense.
The Jaguars finished in the top five in the Sun Belt Conference in pass defense, pass efficiency defense, tackles for loss and third-down conversion percentage against. South Alabama was one of two programs with multiple first team all-conference honorees and both of his starting linebackers received postseason accolades.
Safety Jeremy Reaves was recognized as the 2017 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and twice as a first team all-league honoree. The 2017 defense surrendered 22 points or fewer in regulation seven times in eight conference games.
Wommack earned his first opportunity as a defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois. He helped the Panthers to the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Football Championship playoffs and a top 25 national ranking.
He mentored first team All-American defensive tackle Dino Fanti, the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) co-Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time first team All-OVC selection and defensive back Jourdan Wickliffe.
The 2015 EIU defense ranked second in the nation in interceptions (19), third in takeaways (31), fourth in pass efficiency defense (103.0), eighth in red zone defense (67.3 percent) and 10th in TFLs (98). Eastern Illinois finished first or second in the league in six defensive categories a year after it ranked second in scoring and fourth in takeaways, led by four all-conference honorees.
Wommack coached the husky position at Ole Miss, a staple in the 4-2-5 attack. In 2013, the Rebels ranked 36th in the country in pass defense and 38th in total defense. The previous season, they sat fourth nationally in tackles for loss, 11th in sacks and 25th in rush defense.
He coached the defensive line for co-OVC champion Jacksonville State University in 2011 and spent 2010 as the quarterbacks coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
A fullback at the University of Arkansas (2005-06), the Razorbacks captured the 2006 SEC West Division title. Wommack moved to tight end and transferred to a Southern Miss program that made three straight bowl games from 2007-09.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from USM in 2009, and he was a volunteer assistant coach with the Golden Eagles offensive line.
Wommack and his wife, Melissa, have two sons, Asher (5) and Tatum (3), and are expecting their third in May. His father, Dave, retired following the 2016 season after 37 years of collegiate coaching.
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