Know your Vols: Quarterbacks Matt Simms and Nash Nance
He's also a family man, has books and notepads sprawled on tables in every room of his house, reads at least one of those books per week — it's how he winds down after a long day — and has logged 15 hours of credit toward a doctorate degree.
Once the whistle drops from his jaw and the Terminator shades are replaced with reading glasses, the stereotypes that are sometimes lumped on strength and conditioning coaches don't exactly stick with McKeefery, whom Tennessee hired to replace Bennie Wylie earlier this year.
"He's a smart guy," Dooley said. "He can talk with the best of them on the intellectual part of his industry that nobody understands, including me."
Wherever McKeefery has been throughout his career — the majority of which was spent at South Florida — the individuals he's been hired to enlarge, tone, speed up or all of the above, have joked about taking away his Internet access. The gears never really stop turning in McKeefery's brain, and that's the way he likes it.
"I'd much rather them come into the weight room with that approach of 'What's Coach Mac got for me today?' instead of 'Oh, dang, I got to do that again,' " McKeefery said. "We want the weight room to be the nerve center for the entire operation. We want the guys to come hang out there."
When Dooley took over as the Vols' coach, he inherited one of the SEC's smallest teams. Midway through the 2010 season, he said he had the smallest team in all of college football and joked that, if it were legal, he'd provide "a cash bonus to the first player that's overweight."
With Wylie gone in an abrupt move to the University of Texas, Dooley had the opportunity to instill his philosophy with his third strength coach in as many years. The focus shifted from less aerobic exercises to a more old-school approach of "pushing heavy weight."
The Vols haven't played a game yet, but all indications point toward them at least filling out their uniforms better in 2011.
Skinny wide receivers Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers each added important pounds of muscle that are expected to help their durability. Defensive tackle Daniel Hood, who is more than 60 pounds heavier than he was at this point last season, said he's turned most of the fat gained from ingesting more than 6,000 calories per day into muscle. Running back Tauren Poole increased his bench press maximum by 40 pounds and his squat maximum by 80, which isn't typical for a senior, McKeefery said.
All of this occurred during a period where contact between players and Dooley is limited by NCAA rules. It's a time when college football teams' strength coaches take on the role of de facto head coach, and McKeefery was doing it with minimal established relationships.
"He didn't allow us to quit," defensive end Jacques Smith said. "He wanted us to break barriers that we didn't even know we could."
The Vols did that in a variety of ways, both inside and outside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
For every three-week period in which the Vols trained hard, McKeefery mixed in an "unload week," where the team would "decrease the volume and increase the intensity" all in the pursuit of enhanced team-building. Those "unload" weeks typically included field trips, such as the one that had the Vols pushing sport-utility vehicles and training with local marines, or another that had the Vols run up and down every single step in Neyland Stadium.
"This is our home," Smith said. "That kind of gave us the sense that 'You know what, this place is bigger than any individual on this team.' That's what he was trying to set in during the workout."
McKeefery's focus hasn't wavered much since he arrived at UT after a brief stint with the U.S. Army Special Forces, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He said his wife, Angela, often jokes that he doesn't know how to get anywhere in Knoxville unless he's going to or from the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
Even when he's officially settled in, McKeefery said he doesn't want that to change.
"For me to ask everything out of these guys that I ask out of them, I ask more of myself to make sure I'm giving them everything they deserve," McKeefery said. "From an educational standpoint, we're constantly striving to push ourselves.
"My job is more than just counting to 10. I'm not just a dumbbell coach."