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DT Carrethers eyes starting role with Bolts

Ryan Carrethers was a two-time heavyweight state wrestling champion in Tennessee, including going undefeated his senior year at Brentwood Academy.

His signature move was a hip toss, taking advantage of his power and explosiveness.

So was it effective?

“Very,” Carrethers said. “I pinned the majority of people I faced, so I’d say so.”

Carrethers, a fifth round selection by the San Diego Chargers in this year’s draft, will attempt to use that natural explosiveness on the football field for his new team.

At 6-1 and 333 pounds, Carrethers said he plans to earn the starting nose tackle position left vacant when another San Diego fifth-round selection, Cam Thomas, departed to Pittsburgh in free agency.

Carrethers will compete with Sean Lissemore for the starting job.

“I believe I can contribute right away,” Carrethers said. “I believe if I do what I have to do, I will end up with a starting position.”

Carrethers began his effort toward earning a starting job during rookie minicamp last week, going through individual and team drills in order to master a scheme he’s somewhat familiar with from his time at Arkansas State.

“I think it went well,” he said. “I think it was very productive. I got a lot accomplished. Obviously, I’ve got stuff to work on. But I’m just going to continue to go forward, day by day.”

Carrethers is gym rat in the weight room, setting a school record at Arkansas State by squatting 700 pounds. He also power cleans 400 pounds, and benched 225 pounds 36 times on his pro day. Carrethers said he could have pushed out more reps on the bench, but the weight clips broke and fell off while he was lifting.

His efforts in the weight room earned Carrethers a spot CBS Sports’ Freaks list for the 20 craziest athletes in college football.

“I take pride in my weight room abilities,” he said. “It’s mostly hard work, combined with natural talent. And I’m going to live by that.”

More impressive for Carrethers is that brute strength translates into production on the field. During his final year at Arkansas State, he finished with a career-high 93 tackles -- third-most in the nation among defensive linemen -- four sacks, eight tackles for loss and two blocked kicks.

Carrethers said the player he tries to emulate is defensive tackle Vince Wilfork – the same guy San Diego middle linebacker Donald Butler courted via Twitter when the New England defensive tackle had a contract dispute earlier this offseason with the Patriots.

But with Wilfork staying in New England, the hope for the Chargers is Carrethers will work to clog the middle of San Diego’s defense, keeping Butler clean like the perennial Pro Bowler does for the Patriots.

San Diego gave up 4.6 yards per rush last season, No. 27 in the NFL.

“It’s his relentless effort, and his capability of movement at that size,” Carrethers said, when asked what he admired most about Wilfork.