By People Staff
November 15, 1999 12:00 PM

RICKY WILLIAMS HAS LONG had a problem with girls: They won’t leave him alone. “When he was a student at San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School four years ago, remembers classmate Chad Patmon, the football hero was “the good-hearted guy every woman was looking for. One time he was dating four or five girls at once.” What’s different now is the velocity. Says Miami Herald sports columnist and pal Dan Le Batard: “Women lunge at him as if by catapult.” One reason, of course, is the rushing Williams, 22, does himself. By the time he left the University of Texas last spring (a semester shy of a degree in education), the 5’10”, 236-lb. running back had garnered 20 college football records and the coveted Heisman Trophy. In an NFL first, the New Orleans Saints traded away all six of this year’s draft picks and two of next year’s just to acquire him with a contract that could, with incentives, be worth over $64 million.

Number 34, who has played much of this season with elbow and ankle injuries, is in demand away from the gridiron as well. Even on a recent trip to Wal-Mart to pick out curtains for his new TV room, he found himself trailed by admiring teenage girls. But, Williams says, most women have him pegged all wrong. “Girls see me, and they are going for a certain kind of attitude,” he says. “When they meet me, I’m not that way. I’m quiet and shy.” Williams hasn’t dated much since his former girlfriend gave birth to his daughter Marley seven months ago. He likes to take things slow, squiring a woman around for as long as three weeks without so much as a kiss, he says, because “I don’t like to be pushy.” The technique can backfire though. “The first week they think I’m a gentleman; the second week they’re like, ‘Okay,’ and the third week they start thinking that I might not like them,” says Williams. “Women think too much.”