Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Tim Coleman, right, a fifth-year senior from Mullen High School, is one of several players vying for playing time at defensive end for CU this season.

During his senior year at Colorado in 2004, Matt McChesney noticed a young Abraham Wright trying to find his way on the Buffaloes’ defense.

In the two years after McChesney graduated, he watched Wright become an exceptional pass rusher, racking up 11.5 sacks in 2006 (still the most of any Buff in the last 24 years).

Now an independent trainer in the Denver area, McChesney has worked extensively with current CU defensive end Timothy Coleman over the past seven years and has seen flashbacks to 2006.

“I truly believe that Tim Coleman is a 10-sack guy this year,” McChesney said. “I think you’re going to get another Abraham Wright.”

That would be huge for a CU defense that is looking to replace Jimmie Gilbert and his 10.5 sacks from last year (the most by a Buff since Wright in 2006).

Whether Coleman is the man to replace those sacks or not remains to be seen, but the fifth-year senior from Mullen High School finally appears to have the opportunity to be a force on CU’s defense.

“I just want to help my team win,” Coleman said. “I have a lot of guys depending on me to make plays and if I don’t make plays we’re probably not going to win.”

Coleman is one of several players vying for playing time at defensive end, and the work he’s put in during the offseason has increased his chances of filling a prominent role.

“I have been working every day this summer and in the spring trying to perfect my craft,” he said.

Getting to this point has been quite a journey for Coleman.

He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of his senior year at Mullen, in 2012. Just over a year later, during his redshirt year at CU, he ruptured an Achilles’ tendon.

In 2014 and 2015, Coleman struggled to find a solid role, playing sparingly. Last year, he became a valuable backup, recording 12 tackles and a sack in 174 snaps played.

Now, opportunity is knocking for a bigger role.

“We really like his ability to pass rush, so we’ll see him a lot in our pass-rushing type of situations,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “That’s kind of his niche.

“I’m excited about seeing him have a great fifth year. We have a role for him that I think he can excel in. He has the speed and quickness to do it — and power — and I believe he’s ready to go make some plays for us.”

Coleman has spent hours outside of practice working to become the player CU needs him to be. While the past five years have had plenty of bumps, Coleman said he’s excited for what’s ahead.

“You think about (the past) a lot, but you just try to put that to the back burner, don’t worry about the injuries and know that you’re OK and know that God has my back and he’s on my side,” he said. “That’s all I need.”

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.