Tech's Ricky Williams Gains Attention

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September 9, 1998

LUBBOCK, Texas - (AP) Before he ever suited up for Texas Tech, Ricky Williams knew the role of "Ricky Williams, record-setting running back and Heisman Trophy candidate," was already taken.

Tech's Ricky Williams was a high school star in a Dallas suburb when Ricky Williams of the University of Texas began making a name for himself. He knew immediately he might have to settle for being "the other Ricky Williams."

"I had a teacher come up to me who thought I was playing at Texas," Williams said, recalling the first time he ever heard about UT's Ricky Williams. "I thought about him and started to watch him on TV. I could tell it would be interesting to have two Ricky Williams in the Big 12.

But if Tech's Williams keeps playing like he did in the Red Raiders' 35-3 victory over Texas-El Paso Saturday, he may not have to live in that shadow for long.

Williams is the nation's leading rusher after running for 251 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries.

"After the game, I told Ricky he better get in better condition and stop coming out," coach Spike Dykes said. "I had no idea he carried the ball as many times as he did or had as many yards as he did. Then I found out he carried it 41 times. That's a lot in an early-season game."

Dykes also downplayed any feeling of competition between the two backs with the same name.

"He's sort of used to being called the other' Ricky Williams," Dykes said. "He doesn't make much out of it. He's so unselfish ... I think he's really impressed with the Ricky Williams at Texas. Our guy is tickled to death to be mentioned in the same vain."

But if the first game of the season is any indicator, both Ricky Williamses will break records this year.

On Saturday, Texas' Williams ran for 215 yards on 36 carries and a school-record six touchdowns to lead the Longhorns to a 66-36 victory over New Mexico State.

"It's a good start for the Heisman race," Texas' Williams said. "Two hundred fifteen yards are some good numbers."

Tech's Williams set a school freshman record with 894 yards last year. He's already nearly one-fourth of the way to James Gray's sophomore season record of 1,066 set in 1987.

But Williams says he doesn't intend to concentrate on how many yards he runs.

"I'm not out to break records, I'm out to win games," he said. "Being the leading rusher right now is not very important. Winning games is the biggest key for us."

He also says that no matter what the numbers, the two running backs are similar in name only.

"I think we're different in a lot of ways - he's a lot bigger and I'm much smaller," said the 5-foot-7, 182-pound Williams of Tech. "He's a more powerful runner and I'm more likely to run outside."

Dykes says he expects Williams' big numbers to continue.

"The good thing is we weren't trying to get him any yards," Dykes said. "That's just part of the offense that was working pretty good."




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