HEBRON — Bad news for the financially strapped United States Postal Service: Drew Barker plans to announce his college choice on Friday.
The bushels of football recruiting mail sent to Barker at his Northern Kentucky home have been a steady (stamped) revenue stream for the USPS.
One day last month, Barker, a senior-to-be quarterback at Conner High School, received 115 cards and letters from the University of Kentucky coaching staff.
One day last week, he got 100 more hand-written missives from the Cats' coaches.
Never miss a local story.
Mississippi State, a late entry in the Barker sweepstakes, recently filled his mailbox with 102 letters in one day.
Barker hasn't counted the pieces of the mail he's received from dozens of colleges in the last sixth months, but he figures it's more than 1,000.
Once he makes his college choice, the deluge of mail figures to slow to a trickle.
The phone calls, emails and texts from coaches figure to trail off, too.
Not that Barker will lack for attention. He has more than 5,400 followers on Twitter (@d_barker7).
"This is what I've always wanted, to be recruited like this," Barker said. "At first, I was the one initiating everything. After my freshman year I sent out a ton of film, hoping to get interest. To go from that to where everybody's pursuing me now, it's pretty neat."
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Barker is hardly a newcomer to the spotlight. Before his junior year he had scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Purdue and South Carolina.
After a big junior season — Barker passed for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 1,422 yards and 18 TDs — the attention intensified.
He has since picked up offers from UK, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer has visited Conner High School, but the Buckeyes haven't offered.
It's obvious by listening to Barker that he's more than just flattered by UK's intense interest in him since Mark Stoops took over as the Cats coach in late November.
It's completely different from when Stoops' predecessor, Joker Phillips, didn't show him much recruiting love.
Barker said he attended a UK camp early last summer and was told to follow up with the coaches a couple days later.
"So I called them, thinking they were going to offer because I had performed pretty well at camp," Barker said.
"But when I talked to them, they were like, 'So, have you been to any camps recently?' I was like, 'Oh man, I was just at your camp and you didn't even know I was there!' It was kind of funny, but that's when I cut it off. I was done with UK."
That changed soon after Stoops took over at UK and brought Neal Brown on as his offensive coordinator.
A few days later, Brown visited Barker at Conner and watched him throw in the gym before school.
UK offered a scholarship.
Terry Barker, Drew's dad, has been impressed by the way UK has turned things around with his son.
"We were raised Kentucky fans. I love the Big Blue Nation," he said. "So it hurt Drew a little bit when the previous regime didn't seem to want him.
"I guess Coach Stoops and the rest of his coaches know Drew had kind of a sour taste in his mouth after that, so they've gone the extra mile to show how much they'd love to have him. I think that's really resonated with Drew. He really appreciates it."
Stoops and his staff have made it clear to Barker that he is their No. 1 QB target in this year's class. They're selling him on the idea that he could be a homegrown hero like Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen and Andre Woodson.
"When I was down in Lexington they made that a big point," Barker said. "They had a video that showed all those guys from Kentucky who'd been quarterback, and then my highlight clips were in there with them. I liked that."
Conner Coach Dave Trosper said there's plenty to like about Barker, from his athleticism to his arm strength to his quick release to his competitiveness to his team-first attitude to his work ethic.
Trosper has watched Barker make steady progress as a passer, not so much by improving his physical skills, but by learning the nuances of playing quarterback.
"To say Drew needed to sharpen up his passing, it wasn't that," Trosper said. "He needed to sharpen up what he was seeing, and understanding what the defense was giving him.
"Once he did that, from his sophomore to junior year, he was able to let his natural ability take over."
There's a constant buzz around Barker these days, but he seems unaffected by it. He credits his parents (Terry and Ellie), and his coaches for keeping him humble.
"It's been crazy, but it's also been pretty cool," Barker said.
"The positives really outweigh the negatives, and I'm just trying to soak it all in because it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Once in a lifetime?
Sorry again, USPS.
Drew Barker's high school stats:
218 rushes for 1,422 yards, 18 TDs
140 of 225 passes for 2,067 yards, 22 TDs (7 int.)
212 rushes for 1,371 yards, 22 TDs
93 of 181 passes for 1,009 yards, 4 TDs (7 int.)
18 rushes for 178 yards, 1 TD
9 of 15 passes for 28 yards, 0 TDs
448 rushes for 2,971 yards, 41 TDs
242 of 421 passes (57%) for 3,104 yards, 26 TDs (14 int.)
A sampling of the mail Drew Barker has received from UK's coaching staff:
Andrew Harris Barker:
How is my franchise QB doing today? I know you are getting your work in. Just checking in with you, buddy.
Keep up the good work. All of the BBN are thinking about you!! Take care and keep in touch.
The OL recruiting class for 2014 is going to be the best in the history of Kentucky football! We'll protect you during your time as a Wildcat!
It is special to be part of the football program that represents your home state! People will follow your career here at Kentucky, knowing you are a Kentucky guy!!
This week marks the opening of a New Era in UK football. The Air Raid takes flight! Come lead the Wildcats!
The SEC produces more NFL players than any other conference. We will prepare you to play on Sundays. Go Cats!