Rondell Bothroyd has no choice but to be a leader for Oklahoma. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive end is already one.

Rondell Bothroyd has no choice but to be a leader for Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive end is already one of the oldest players on OU’s roster, having played five years at Wake Forest before transferring to Norman in January. And a team captain at Wake Forest last season, Bothroyd is more than comfortable being a leader in Oklahoma’s locker room.

“I’m old,” Bothroyd said Tuesday. “I’m definitely not a vocal leader, but I try to lead in the stuff I do. And then with time, you try to be vocal. You try to get to know the guys first. I was a captain at Wake so I kind of know the ins and outs of being a leader. I think the biggest thing is I’m old and experienced.”

Oklahoma desperately needed a player and leader the caliber of Bothroyd in the portal. The Sooners lacked both talent and experience on the edge last season, which is why they recruited Bothroyd and Oklahoma State transfer Trace Ford, who played four seasons in Stillwater.

Those two have especially given the defensive end room a boost. They’ve also formed a tight bond as the two older guys in the group.

“He was hurt most of the spring, but literally the last practice we had, he got like 10 plays and had like four sacks. He’s fast,” Bothroyd said of Ford. “He’s easy to get along with just like the rest of the guys in the room. But yeah, we’re older. The most difficulty we’ve had is the playbook just because we had been used to one playbook and then you switch over. But it’s been cool to see him get back. Hopefully, he plays this weekend and you guys get to see that.”

Reggie Grimes, Ethan Downs, R Mason Thomas and Jonah Laulu – now on the interior defensive line – got most of the snaps last season at defensive end, with few others seeing much playing time. That likely will change in 2023, with the additions of Bothroyd, Ford and true freshman PJ Adebawore.

Grimes, Downs and Thomas will still see the field, but having the experience of Bothroyd and Ford, and the youth of Adebawore, gives Oklahoma an actual rotation on the edge.

“You get four or five plays and then you get a break. You can be fresh,” Bothroyd said. “I know during the season it’ll be a good thing because there’s no drop off with anybody… PJ is obviously a freak athlete. R Mason is young and he’s probably been one of the most consistent, productive players this spring.

“I think we’re all just meshing as a group. I think we’re going to have a good summer and then it’s going to carry over.”

Bothroyd might have been OU’s biggest win in the transfer market this offseason. In 42 games played at Wake Forest, he totaled 136 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks – he had 24.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks combined the past two seasons.

Oklahoma has high hopes for Bothroyd, who many expect to start next season. But first, he still has a bit to learn.

“The playbook is the biggest difference just because coach Venables – he expects a lot and has a lot for us,” Bothroyd said. The playbook is a lot bigger and it’s been tough to adjust to that because I’m so used to (Wake Forest’s) terminology. I’m so used to the old terminology, but all the coaches demand the same thing. They demand effort, techinique, and know the plays.”

But as for what OU is asking Bothroyd to do, that isn’t complicated.

“Just play hard,” Bothroyd said. “Do your job. Make plays. And just have fun.”