Partway through a long June day during a week of hopping from one satellite camp to the next, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pulled out his Sharpie and started to scribble. He turned with a mischievous grin to share his message with the well-traveled members of his staff seated behind him on the small plane. As he has been for more than two years, David Turnley was there to capture the moment.
Turnley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, embedded in the Wolverines program not long after Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor in 2015. He and the head coach have published a book (their second together) featuring some of the tens of thousands of photographs he has taken in the past year with the team. From the sidelines of Michigan Stadium to the team's trip to Rome this spring, these are a few shots that provide a glimpse inside a year at a major college football program.
It started to rain as night fell at the gladiator school in Rome during Michigan's visit this spring. In a circular arena just large enough to fit the team's roughly 150-person traveling party, Harbaugh battles offensive coordinator Tim Drevno with a shield and club.
Turnley has had the chance to take pictures at the Vatican a few times in his career, but never has he gotten closer than during his trip with Michigan in April. He compared the shot of Harbaugh and Pope Francis -- which landed on the cover of the book -- to the night he photographed Nelson Mandela leaving prison in South Africa in terms of cherished opportunity. Harbaugh delivered a Michigan helmet and a pair of Jordan sneakers to the head of the Catholic Church and later told reporters, "It felt like this is what it would be like to meet Jesus Christ."
Sophomore running back Chris Evans delights in the music of an Italian opera at St. Paul's Within the Walls, the first Protestant church built within the city of Rome.
Veteran linemen Kyle Kalis, Chris Wormley and Ryan Glasgow share an embrace with Harbaugh after winning the final home game of their careers at Michigan -- a 20-10 victory over Indiana.
Former captain Jake Butt soaks in the closing minutes of his last home game at the Big House on a snowy night in November.
"It was a really moving, poetic moment. It was kind of euphoric," Turnley said. "That was just one of those moments where it all came together."
Michigan has had an esteemed list of honorary captains on the sideline since Harbaugh's return, but none created more buzz than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Super Bowl champion returned to the Big House last September for his first visit since the end of his college career at Michigan.
De'Veon Smith, Chris Wormley and Chase Winovich, left to right, find ways to pass the time while taking a dunk in a hot tub inside Michigan's football facility.
Redshirt senior linebacker Mike McCray dives into a mat drill during winter workouts in Ann Arbor. The drill serves as the finale to a session of conditioning work.
"I'm just going out there and getting it," McCray said. "You've got to have fun with it, making noise and that kind of thing. You've got to have fun with it just to get through it."
Teammates console Jeremy Clark after he suffered a season-ending injury in October. Turnley said moments like this one are what he was hoping would "give people a sense of what these people are about, their character, the grind, the grit, the aspiration and the privilege of being part of a team."
Players who flipped through Turnley's book were impressed with how his photographs managed to stay true to the personalities they depicted. Here, defensive coordinator Don Brown flashes a "hang loose" symbol as he coaches defense during the Wolverines' victory at Michigan State in late October.
Junior Grant Newsome grimaced in pain on his way to the hospital after a severe leg injury last fall. Initially, swelling helped stabilize Newsome's knee and he thought he might be able to play the following week. In the locker room, doctors discovered warning signs of something worse. They rushed him to the hospital for a surgery that narrowly helped him avoid amputation.
"I don't think it was physical pain," he said, looking at the photo 10 months later. "It was just emotional pain at that point. It was the realization at that point that my season is over. That's what that was."
Newsome remained in the intensive care unit for 10 days after the injury, but his mood improved quickly. He was scolded by hospital staff later that night for cheering too loudly as he watched his teammates clinch a win over Wisconsin with a fourth-quarter interception.