The adjustment to a new strength coach wasn't the only challenge of the Vols' summer workouts.
"Man, this was an intense offseason," offensive lineman Dallas Thomas said. "Everybody has gotten way stronger and everybody's more dedicated to the program I feel. I can't wait to strap it up for the first game."
A hard-fought grind from both players and coach has made a seamless transition under McKeefery in his first several months.
"It's both," said Thomas, listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds. "We love coach Mac. He gets the job done and we get the job done for him."
McKeefery is all about results, but the Tennessee players aren't just seeing them in increased bench press and squat numbers.
"He came in and made it a priority to get us stronger, and he's done that," Thomas said. "He took before-and-after pictures of us, and you can see much more definition in our bodies and how much bigger we got."
McKeefery entered the Tennessee program in January of 2011 and thus far Derek Dooley couldn't be more pleased with the new program under McKeefery.
"Ron has been great," Dooley said. "He and I have been on the same page. Philosophically, he is very in tune with the moral and the development of the team. He keeps me updated and I have no complaints with how Ron has trained the team."
McKeefery spent 11 seasons with the Bulls of South Florida before accepting a role with the United States Army Special Forces. Now McKeefery is bringing a similar intensity to Rocky Top.
"It has been rough," senior tailback Tauren Poole said. "We have run the entire stadium, but it has helped us mentally and especially physically. I just like the type of things that he is bringing to the program."
The stadium runs were a common theme among players when addressing questions about McKeefery and may have served as a team-building exercise.
"We ran stadiums," defensive end Malik Jackson said. "That was pretty tough running all those steps. I think we work a lot harder. Everybody's a lot together. It's good for us."
One thing is for certain, McKeefery is trying to produce similar results to those of South Florida where he helped take the Bulls from a Division I-AA program to a contender in the Big East Conference.
His strength program alongside great coaching helped the Bulls outscore opponents by a three-to-one margin in the fourth quarter and compile a perfect 10-0 record in overtime games.