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Tech's Ricky Williams Makes a Name

Sophomore Ricky Williams

Sophomore Ricky Williams
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December 30, 1998

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer

SHREVEPORT, La. - Texas Tech's Ricky Williams has played his college career in the shadow of the Heisman Trophy winner with the same name, even after after winning the individual meetings between the two.

And he has two seasons left to make a name for himself.

"That's the only thing I can do to get people's minds off me being the other Ricky Williams ... being able to outrush him or beat them," said Williams, a Texas Tech sophomore.

"People blow it up a lot. I'm used to it. The positive side to it is I had a chance to make a name for myself, even though we've got the same name," he said.

Texas Tech beat Texas 42-35 this season as its running back outrushed the Heisman Trophy winner 148-141. The Red Raiders also won in 1997, their freshman outgaining the two-time Doak Walker Award winner 131-80.

The Heisman winner plays his final game for No. 20 Texas on New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl against No. 25 Mississippi State.

After the Independence Bowl on New Year's Eve against Mississippi (6-5), Williams still has two full seasons left at Texas Tech (7-4).

"He has a bright future. He has a lot of carries left here," Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes said.

"He is a blue-collar guy, a hard worker. We haven't projected him, haven't run him for office. What you see is what you get," he said. "There are no padded stats. He has been a steady force."

In a balanced Texas Tech offense (202 yards passing, 201 yards rushing per game), Williams rushed for 1,582 yards and a school-record 13 touchdowns this season. His rushing total was the fourth-best in NCAA Division I-A, but is not even the best in his own state.

Williams was a third-team AP All-American and second-team All-Big 12 Conference pick. On both lists, he is behind his namesake at Texas, who also is the NCAA I-A career rushing leader.

Jonathan Gray, a 6-foot-5, 357-pound offensive tackle known as "The House," believes "our Ricky Williams is just as good as the Ricky Williams at Texas. I work side-to-side with him and see the adversity he goes through to be a better player."

Gray is part of a starting offensive line in front of Williams that checks in at 323 pounds per man.

"That is a good sign of security. It makes me feel safe knowing that I have big linemen that are willing to work for me. That's the reason I gained over 1,500 yards this year," Williams said.

Not bad for a 5-foot-7, 182-pounder who was 20 pounds lighter in high school in Duncanville, Texas, and not highly recruited by major schools. Many coaches were wary about his size.

Dykes, however, took Williams' high school coach, Bob Alpert, at his word and gave Williams a chance.

Now, after 22 straight starts, Williams has already rushed for 2,476 yards and is 1,742 shy of Byron Hanspard's school record. As a freshman, he broke Hanspard's freshman record with 894 yards.

For the record, he needs 3,803 yards to reach the NCAA career record held by his namesake. That would mean averaging 173 yards per game over his final two regular seasons.

"His record and stats talk for themselves. More than anything, the guy works harder than anyone else I've been around," said junior quarterback Rob Peters, who himself has played nine different positions at Tech.

"Last year he had a great year. This year, he only expounded on that. He is a great role model and great leader for this team because every day he gives his all."

 

 

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