Though the trip will be special for all the Michigan football players, it will be life-changing for Salim Makki and Grant Newsome. Makki, a junior defensive tackle from Dearborn, Mich., and Newsome, a sophomore offensive lineman from McLean, Va., will join Harbaugh and his wife in meeting Pope Francis during their trip to St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican.
Harbaugh held an essay contest to decide which two players get the opportunity of a lifetime. Interested players were to submit a short essay explaining why they wished to meet the Pope.
"His Holiness Pope Francis is sincerely one of my heroes," Makki, a Muslim wrote. "In a time where Muslims have been scrutinized and wrongly identified with violence, Pope Francis has defended Islam and stated that not all Muslims are violent."
Newsome discussed his appreciation for God, among other things, saying, "The Pope is the closest mortal being to God, so by shaking the Pope's hand and by telling him 'thank you,' I feel that I could truly show God how appreciative I am of him."
Jim and Sarah Harbaugh and Makki and Newsome will present Pope Francis with a custom Michigan football helmet.
The Associated Press published screen shots of both essays.