published Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Phil Cofer spurns Tennessee Vols for Florida State

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee's new basketball coaches were hopeful they could coax former signee Phil Cofer back into the fold.

That will not be the case.

The 6-foot-8 forward out of Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Ga., who signed with the Volunteers in the fall while Cuonzo Martin was the coach, announced on his Twitter account Saturday he was committing to Florida State, where he was visiting this weekend.

"Tennessee I appreciate everything that y'all have done for me man seriously! But I will be attending Florida state!" Cofer tweeted Saturday afternoon.

Like fellow early-period signees Larry Austin, Jordan Cornish and C.J. Turman, Cofer requested and was granted a release from his national letter of intent in the first few days of Donnie Tyndall's tenure replacing Martin, who left for California after three seasons at Tennessee.

The son of Michael Cofer, who played linebacker at Tennessee in the 1980s, Phil Cofer appeared the most interested of the group in sticking with the Vols, and Tyndall and his staff even traveled to Georgia a week after Tyndall took the job to visit with Cofer and his family.

Tennessee was hopeful to get the No. 120 player in the country per Rivals.com -- the highest-ranked recruit of the four Martin signed -- on campus for an official visit following his visits to Virginia Tech and Florida State, but Cofer instead appears likely to sign with the Seminoles.

Turman, a 6-9 forward out of Morgan County High in Madison, Ga., signed scholarship papers Wednesday with Florida Atlantic, where his high school coach recently was hired as an assistant coach.

Austin, the point guard from Illinois, committed to Xavier on Saturday.

"I just felt like Xavier was the right place for me," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Since I got my release form from Tennessee, me and Coach [Chris] Mack have had a good relationship -- with my parents as well. They recruited me hard, and I wanted to come be part of the family."

Rasham Suarez, a junior college point guard out of the College of Central Florida who signed with Tyndall at Southern Mississippi, decided Saturday to remain with the Golden Eagles. They tabbed former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler as Tyndall's replacement on April 30.

Though Tyndall said he wouldn't actively recruit his Southern Miss signees to Tennessee, he did say he'd take them if they wanted their releases, and Suarez was a possibility.

The Vols are expecting to host IUPUI transfer guard Ian Chiles and former Ohio signee Tariq Owens, a 6-8 forward out of Maryland, on visits this week. Former Southern Miss signee Willie Carmichael, a 6-7 forward, is another possibility as Tyndall tries to restock his roster.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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