Updated at 9:26 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.
Chris Jones, a South Pittsburg native who played collegiately at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has resigned as the head coach, general manager and vice president of football operations with the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders to accept a job as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns.
Jones, whose official title will be senior defensive specialist, interviewed with new Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens on Tuesday morning and was announced on the team's website later in the day. Jones had worked as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1997 when Kitchens played quarterback.
"Freddie was actually roommates with Jeremy Pruitt and Will Friend while I was there, and they lived upstairs from me," Jones said. "I've kept a good relationship with him through the years. I've also got a good relationship with Bill Parcells, and he called Freddie on my behalf, and I believe that helped to line up the interview, too.
"It's an opportunity to coach at the highest level, plus closer to home, and I'm really excited to see if we can help turn this franchise around and be a part of something special like we have been at the CFL and everywhere else I've worked."
Jones, 51, was on the staffs of seven teams that appeared in CFL championship games. He was part of four Grey Cup titles during his 17 years of coaching in that league, including one as head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015. He was the defensive coordinator on title-winning teams at Montreal (2002), Calgary (2008) and Toronto (2012).
Last season Saskatchewan tied a CFL record with 14 defensive touchdowns.
Jones began his coaching career at the high school level, helping North Jackson win the 1993 Alabama state championship before working at Tennessee Tech and then Alabama as a graduate assistant. He also worked as the defensive line coach at UT-Martin and later at Tennessee Tech.
"When you grow up playing in a small town, like I did, you always dream of getting to play in the NFL until you realize you can't play at that level," Jones said. "So I started to work on the coaching side as my way of getting there.
"It was a little surreal, but at the same time it's still just football, and I'm confident that I can make the team better."
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