As a lifelong Florida State fan, Jack Henyecz was thrilled as the Seminoles upset No. 5 North Carolina two weeks ago.
The 19-year-old Winter Park native screamed so hard his sides cramped and watched the Tar Heels' final pass hit the dirt in disbelief.
“It felt so surreal,” Henyecz said. “Then having to realize I’m getting a tattoo kind of brought me back to reality.”
Not just any tattoo. A tattoo of FSU coach Mike Norvell from his playing days at Central Arkansas, when he was sporting cornrows.
But what started with a joke on a poster — IF FSU BEATS UNC I’LL GET THIS TATTOO — turned into four hours in a chair Tuesday and a viral moment for the political science student at Tallahassee Community College.
Henyecz has been seriously into sports for years. He played soccer and ran cross country and track at Lake Howell High.
When he wasn’t competing, he was cheering. He put on body paint for a football game during his junior year. Later, that turned into a full-body glitter, like FSU’s famous Garnet and Gold Guys.
“At first it was kind of rough,” Henyecz said. “Over the games, it got better and better. It was honestly just to show school spirit.”
Henyecz feels the same way about FSU, where his father attended and where he hopes to transfer to in a semester or two. When ESPN’s College GameDay visited Orlando for UCF-Cincinnati in 2018, he made a sign that said “All I want for Christmas is an FSU bowl game” with a photo of Mariah Carey.
His interest in creative posters kept going from there. Henyecz tried to come up with something funny. Why not something about getting a tattoo? But of what?
He didn’t want it to be about a player, because someone could interpret it maliciously. He didn’t want Bobby Bowden or the logo, either. Too easy.
“What’s something that’s out there but not too far out there to offend anyone or have any negative connotations toward Florida State?” Henyecz said.
He decided on Norvell in cornrows. Henyecz planned to make one for FSU’s Oct. 3 game against Jacksonville State, saying he’d get that tattoo if the Seminoles lost to the Division I-AA team. Alas, he got busy with his shift as a cashier at Publix and ran out of time.
As FSU fell behind 14-0, Henyecz felt relieved.
“Imagine if I brought it to this game,” Henyecz thought. “I’m so glad I did not make that, because this is terrible.”
Henyecz instead made one two weeks later for the North Carolina game.
“At first it was completely a joke,” Henyecz said. “Obviously being a diehard fan, it’d be funny to make a sign with a 21-point underdog. As the night went on, I kind of realized how serious it had actually become.”
And when North Carolina’s fourth-down failure sealed FSU’s epic win, Henyecz became a minor celebrity. Fans took pictures of him and his sign. He got more than a hundred social media messages that night. Everyone wanted to know: Was he actually going to go through with it?
His one viable excuse was money. A tattoo would cost about $700 — a month’s rent. And if Henyecz was going to get a tattoo, he wasn’t going to get a cheap one that looked bad.
But his escape plan disappeared when a man named Emilio Rodriguez reached out. If you want it, Rodriguez said, it’s free.
At first, Henyecz was skeptical about a stranger offering a free tattoo. But when he realized Rodriguez was a good artist with a legitimate shop (Carbon Ink), Henyecz was convinced.
“It was an offer I couldn’t resist, because it was right there,” Henyecz said.
And on Tuesday, he finally got it. He shaved his right leg that day and wanted it high enough that he could cover most of it up. After four hours of noticeable but tolerable pain, it was done. When he wears shorts, only the final score (FSU 31-28 UNC) pokes out the bottom.
Henyecz waited to put it on social media until he could pose for pictures with it outside Doak Campbell Stadium. It exploded Friday night. He had to pause an interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday morning because he got a text from a friend. ESPN was just talking about him.
Norvell — who put his hair in cornrows years ago because of an unfortunate bet — even tweeted about it.
“Two prime examples of college decisions gone bad…” he said. “Wear it proud and can always tell one hell of a story!”
Henyecz called Norvell’s reaction “the icing on the cake.”
Not all of the reaction over the last two weeks has been positive. Henyecz said his dad laughed it off but “at the same time thinks I’m dumb.” His mother, however, kept asking him if it was really happening.
“The only thing I could tell her was, ‘Mom, I feel like it’s too far to go back now,’” Henyecz said.
And it’s too late to go back now, even if he wanted to. So does Henyecz regret any of it — the joke, the sign, the ink?
“When I’m in my room and I look down at my leg, there’s regret to the extent that I have a tattoo and I never planned on getting one,” he said. "At the same time, it’s a fun story to tell.
"Florida State football and Florida State in general have been my favorite thing in my entire life. My best memories have been coming up here with my family and friends and going to games or other events at Florida State.
“The regret stops at the point of being passionate for Florida State. That’s always been my main passion. I guess I don’t regret it. But I do. There’s a bit of regret, but not enough to not show off the tattoo or own it and show it.”