It’s 2017. The high-powered USF offense led by Quinton Flowers, Darius Tice and Marquez Valdes-Scantling has guided the Bulls all the way to Houston’s 2-yard line.
USF is an undefeated 7-0 and ranked No. 17 in the country. It’s fourth and goal, and Flowers takes the snap, hands the ball to D’Ernest Johnson, and the future Cleveland Brown plunges into the end zone to give the Bulls an early lead.
Just like that, in section 121, the USF Wizard was born.
“When it happened … the camera guy just happened to see me [gesturing] and started [recording] it,” Adam Hymowitz, also known as the USF Wizard, said. “And now we just make eye contact when we’re ready to go.
“It’s morphed into this whole thing about how he will get a call from his people and he’ll look at me and he’ll point to his ears, and to me [that signals] the TV people want me to be on the screen, and then he’ll point to me. We have a whole hand gesture thing, it’s kind of funny.”
Hymowitz’s act is hard to miss while attending USF football games. After a big play or in an exciting moment, there’s a good chance he’s on the jumbotron doing his signature stare and finger wiggling in the direction of the camera with a wizard hat sitting on his head.
USF class of 2011 graduate and longtime Tampa resident, Hymowitz has become a local celebrity since that Johnson touchdown in 2017.
“I get noticed pretty frequently,” he said. “I was at the soccer game … and people tend to know who I am.”
In its infancy, his alter ego wasn’t exactly a wizard like it is today, as Hymowitz’s signature hat wasn’t even part of the look yet.
The headgear didn’t come into play until Hymowitz, along with his then girlfriend and now wife, purchased a hat to start wearing at the games, and it stuck.
“I think as a joke or something we went on Amazon and got [it]. If you looked at the beginning, I had a blue hat that’s basically like the Disney ‘Fantasia’ hat,” Hymowitz said. “It was some $7 hat we found on Amazon and [we] just got it for fun.
“And then I started wearing that to games … and then my wife would come to the games and then I think there’s a couple pictures of her wearing the hat as well, and that’s kind of how it started.”
Hymowitz is currently on the second iteration of his hat, a USF-themed piece that was made by his mother. Recently, however, a third was created by a family friend that, according to Hymowitz, looks professionally done.
He plans to break out his new lid against Tulsa on Oct. 16.
Through his passionate support of USF and his work as the USF Wizard, Hymowitz has made some friends along the way, including other big fans and even a few former players.
“I’ve met so many people, we actually started a new tradition this year because we’re all active on Twitter,” he said. “If you see some of the people like Santi and Pickels, and even Jordan Cronkrite and Kayvon Webster when he was here, Matt Grothe … we all meet up at halftime at the south end zone and take a picture every game.”
Hymowitz’s love for USF and the community was crafted long before he was an undergraduate student studying economics at the university. He recalled rollerblading on the Tampa campus as a kid and attending football and basketball games with his family growing up.
Now a 33-year-old associate analyst at Citi in Tampa, Hymowitz doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, as he said his presence at USF is making memories for a whole new generation.
“It’s just something to get people involved and the kids love it, it’s silly because the kids like it,” Hymowitz said. “You’ve seen me do the faceoff between that one kid with gloves [at the games.] I’ve met him and his dad a couple times, they’re hysterical. … But, I mean yeah I’ll do it until whenever, and I’ll do it until we get our [on-campus] stadium, [I’ll] do it there, too.”