Injuries, attrition and upheaval are impossible to avoid during the 12 games in 13 weeks played by each Big Ten team, so the last thing any team needs is to have players off the field for any other reason.
Of course, that's the situation Ohio State has been in all season long. The Buckeyes knew they would be shorthanded when it was announced just two days before Christmas six players would miss time for the NCAA violations committed as part of the "Tattoogate" scandal that eventually cost head coach Jim Tressel his job.
But finally, the Buckeyes are due to get the last piece of the puzzle back for Saturday's game with Penn State. Wide receiver DeVier Posey, who got five games for the memorabilia scandal and five more in midseason for receiving payments for work not performed over the past three summers, will be back for the Senior Day showdown in Ohio Stadium.
"Right now we've got the four guys back but we're missing DeVier," safety Christian Byrant said. "He's the final piece that we need. He's going to bring a lot of joy to this team as soon as he comes back. He should be a big impact."
Though Posey has not been made available for interviews this year, the senior has been a popular topic of conversation the past few days, especially given the anemic nature of the OSU passing game.
"Hopefully it gives us a spark, kind of like it did with Boom (Herron)," head coach Luke Fickell said. "Obviously, he's a senior. He'll be playing his last game at home, and those guys, just like with Boom, you look around and you're in a huddle and you've got a guy that's got some confidence and has been there and done it, hopefully they can feed off of that. That's what we're looking for."
Posey's addition will be welcomed simply because of the experience he will provide. Ohio State has been starting a true freshman at quarterback in Braxton Miller, while every player to start at wide receiver this year has been an underclassman.
The Cincinnati La Salle product, on the other hand, was expected to be one of the top wide receivers in the Big Ten this season after hauling in a combined 113 passes the past two seasons for 1,676 yards and 15 touchdowns. This year in 10 games, OSU's six wideouts to see playing time have combined for 46 catches, 745 yards and five scores.
Though Fickell cautioned Tuesday afternoon that Posey's insertion into the starting lineup is not a foregone conclusion this early in the week, it seems fair to expect he'll jump right back in as Herron and left tackle Mike Adams did.
"I think it's just going to help the offense as a whole," Herron said. "He's definitely going to bring leadership and he has great experience. He'll definitely be one of those guys that I'm sure he's going to get open because I think DeVier is a great receiver. He's definitely going to help the offense out by getting some first downs, catching some balls down the field. It also helps open up the run game a little bit."
Wide receivers coach Stan Drayton said that he'll do his best to make sure Posey isn't too wound up for the game, but there's only so much he'll be able to do given how much of his final season Posey has missed.
The time off hasn't been always easy for Posey to handle, Drayton said.
"He's unbelievable in how he's handled this adversity he's been through," Drayton said. "This has been extremely hard on this young man. You close the door and he bleeds on you, but this is also his escape. He walks into this facility and he's escaping from all that. He knows he's around family, he's around his brothers, he's around coaches that believe in him and trust him. We know him.
"You don't really see that while he's in this building, but I know he hurts when he's not. We've coached him through that a little bit,"
Still, it speaks to Posey's work ethic and personality that he's still held in high regard among his teammates, and he has been grouped in with Herron when players throughout the year have been asked about the team's vocal leaders.
Senior defensive end Solomon Thomas, who also missed five games as part of the memorabilia scandal, also said Posey was one of the best influences on him as he neared the end of his exile, showing his maturity.
"There were times when I was negative and this guy has a 10-game suspension, and I week had a week or two left and he's telling me to cheer up," Thomas said. "He never second-guessed (being here)."
Fickell has also been impressed with what he's seen.
"I promise you the guys respect for the way he's handled himself, the way he's practiced, what he's shown he's learned from the situation, and hopefully that gives him a spark," he said.
Posey will have only two regular-season games and a bowl contest to show Ohio State fans what they've been missing, but those who have played with him for the previous three years are looking forward to that little bit of time.
"It'll be good to get DeVier back," said center Michael Brewster, who came in with Posey in the class of 2009. "I've been waiting to play with him for a long time now. Let's just finish this strong and see what happens."