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Texas RB runs into a crowd

After a whirlwind month of awards banquets, news conferences and other public appearances, Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams has been having fun getting ready for the Cotton Bowl.

He talks of high school cheerleaders waiting outside his hotel room, of meeting the Dallas Cowboys and of playing video games at Emmitt Smith's house.

Williams plays his final game for Texas today against Mississippi State. He has set a lot of records, but he's 0-2 in bowls.

"I already have the Heisman Trophy, so I don't have anything to prove," he said. "I just want to go out there and help the team win."

Since breaking Tony Dorsett's major-college rushing record the morning after Thanksgiving, Williams has been to black-tie events in Orlando and New York. He has been through numerous interviews, including a television chat with David Letterman.

It seems everyone wants a piece of him. He had a police escort when he returned to Austin from New York. When he arrived at practice this week, he wasn't with his teammates but came through a different entrance.

"Ricky is the same Ricky to us," quarterback Major Applewhite said. "But I've noticed a lot more people around him than before. I guess that comes with the territory."

While his teammates were enjoying a barbecue Sunday night, Williams went to Texas Stadium to watch the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins. But his eyes weren't always on the game.

"I was looking at the cheerleaders," he said.

When the game ended, Williams was in the tunnel leading to the Dallas locker room. Several players and coach Chan Gailey, who saw Williams leaning against a wall, stopped to greet him.

"You see these guys on TV and they seem like they're superhuman," Williams said. "But you meet them and they're just regular people just like me and you."

Smith was the most excited to meet Williams. The feeling was mutual _ so much so that they arranged to meet Monday night.

Williams went to Smith's house for about four hours. Most of the time was spent playing video games with Smith and his younger brother, Emory.

"They got mad because they couldn't beat me," Williams said.

Williams said there wasn't much football talk, but Smith did give him advice about the NFL.

"He just told me that it's not much harder than college," Williams said. "That kind of put my mind at ease because I've been worried about that."

When he returned to the hotel, Williams found "eight or nine" cheerleaders outside his room hoping for an autograph. He obliged the teenagers, who were sharing the hotel with the Longhorns while taking part in a national competition, but they had to earn it.

"I made them do about 10push-ups," he said. "And they did."


WHO: Texas (8-3) vs.

Mississippi State (8-4).

LINE: Texas by 6{.