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Ex-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens joining staff at North Carolina

A former NFL head coach is joining the staff at North Carolina.

UNC announced Tuesday that Freddie Kitchens has been hired as run game coordinator and tight ends coach on head coach Mack Brown's staff. Kitchens, who played quarterback at Alabama from 1993 to 1997, has some college coaching experience but is most known for his one-year stint as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Kitchens was part of Hue Jackson’s staff in Cleveland and worked his way up to head coach after Jackson was fired. Jackson had a miserable 3-36-1 record with the Browns and Kitchens joined the staff ahead of the 2018 season, Jackson’s last one in Cleveland. Jackson was fired midway through the season and Kitchens got bumped up from running backs coach to offensive coordinator.

Freddie Kitchens led the Cleveland Browns to a 6-10 record during his lone season in charge. Now he's headed back to the college ranks. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Freddie Kitchens led the Cleveland Browns to a 6-10 record during his lone season in charge. Now he's headed back to the college ranks. (AP Photo/David Richard) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Following Jackson’s dismissal, the Browns went 5-3 to close out the season under interim head coach Gregg Williams. Kitchens was credited for the Browns’ improvement on offense and was promoted to head coach following the season. The Browns went 6-10 in Kitchens' lone season in charge.

Kitchens was fired after the 2019 season and subsequently spent two years as an assistant with the New York Giants. However, he spent the 2022 season as an analyst at South Carolina. It was his first college job after a 16-year run in the NFL.

Now he’s got a full-time, on-field role for the Tar Heels. It’s his first on-field college job since he worked at Mississippi State in 2004 and 2005. Kitchens also had stints at North Texas, LSU and Glenville State.

At North Carolina, Kitchens joins a program coming off a 9-5 season that included an ACC Coastal division title but also four consecutive losses to close out the year. The Tar Heels have one of the top returning quarterbacks in the country in Drake Maye, a potential No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

UNC will open the 2023 season against South Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte.