UPDATE: CeCe Jefferson eliminated LSU from his list of potential schools on Monday

Leo Lewis was a few hours into his official visit to LSU on Friday night when the news broke: He had decommitted from Ole Miss.

Lewis, the top-ranked inside linebacker recruit in the nation and a four-star prospect, didn’t commit to a new school. But his decision to decommit from one Southeastern Conference school while on a visit to another sent shock waves throughout the recruiting world just days before National Signing Day.

National recruiting analysts weighed in, and fans of LSU and Mississippi State — both schools are in hot pursuit of Lewis — celebrated on social media.

It was kickoff to the home stretch of the busiest and most crucial recruiting period of the year, a time in which LSU is gunning for a few big fish — like Lewis — to turn a top-10 class into a top-five group.

Two days before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, LSU sits at 19 commitments, its class at No. 8 in 247Sports’ composite team rankings. The class is ranked 11th by Rivals and 14th by Scout. None of coach Les Miles’ previous full nine signing classes finished outside of the top 10 in both of those team rankings.

Will it finally happen? That depends on whom the Tigers can reel in late.

Remember what pushed LSU to its No. 2 ranking last season: the signing day commits of defensive linemen Travonte Valentine, Trey Lealaimatafao and Sione Teuhema and wide receiver Malachi Dupre.

LSU won’t have to wait until signing day for defensive end Arden Key, a four-star prospect from Georgia. He plans to announce his college destination Monday.

Other highly rated LSU targets aren’t scheduled to decide until signing day. The list includes Florida defensive end Cece Jefferson (1 p.m. on ESPNU), Florida quarterback Torrance Gibson and Lewis.

The goal over the final recruiting stretch is to get at least one of those three defensive players, said Mike Scarborough, a local recruiting reporter for Rivals.com. Lewis, a Brookhaven, Mississippi, native, might be the most important of the group.

LSU doesn’t have a linebacker committed in the class, and the program’s last hope for one seems to be Lewis, the only linebacker with an LSU offer who is interested. LSU signed two linebackers in last year’s class.

“They’re looking at the reality of going two full years of getting two linebackers committed. They’re going to be relying in two years on a small number of guys or guys playing early,” said Shea Dixon, the local recruiting reporter for 247Sports. “Linebacker is the most dire need in my opinion right now.”

LSU may not sign the full allotment of 25 players, so it’s possible the Tigers could add a linebacker in the late spring or summer. Either way, the position will be an area of need next year.

John Chavis’ departure to Texas A&M could have had an effect on linebacker recruiting this year. The defensive coordinator also coached linebackers.

LSU went nearly two weeks with a void on its staff as Miles searched for a replacement. New defensive coordinator (and linebackers coach) Kevin Steele was hired Jan. 13.

“Chavis had the No. 1 defense in the SEC,” Dixon said, “but the other end of the bargain is you have to recruit. He was the linebackers coach. They signed two guys last year. (Chavis) didn’t get one commitment between last February and now.”

LSU may need a handful of late signees to sneak into the top five, said Sonny Shipp, a recruiting reporter for 247Sports. The Tigers are still after in-state targets Derrick Dillon, a four-star athlete from Pine High School who could flip from Florida, and receiver Daylon Charlot, a Patterson High standout deciding between LSU and Alabama.

Other targets include Gibson, a dual threat who has been committed to Ohio State, and offensive lineman Toby Weathersby, a Texas offensive tackle who decommitted from the Longhorns.

“If you grade the class now, you’d have to give it an incomplete,” Shipp said late last week. “You don’t know who they are going to finish with. If you close with Derrick Dillon, Torrance Gibson, Arden Key, Toby Weathersby and Daylon Charlot and hang on to everything you have, you’re talking a top-five class.”

And if you get half of those guys? The class likely is ranked between eighth and 10th, Shipp said.

“(If) you just get Derrick Dillon,” he said, “you’re at No. 12 to 15.”

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv

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Closing the class

In the final hours before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, here’s where the Tigers stand:

They need …

Linebackers: LSU doesn’t have a linebacker committed, and the Tigers signed just two last year. It wouldn’t hurt to add a defensive lineman or two as well.

They must hold onto…

Nick Brossette: The University High running back is wavering. Some feel he’ll flip to Texas, which he visited a few weeks ago. Also, offensive tackle Maea Teuhema is being pursued by Texas.

The class will finish ...

In the top 10, but not the top five: This is only a guess, of course. The Tigers probably won’t sign the full allotment of 25 players, but they’ll pull three or four more to keep them in the top 10.

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LSU’s most wanted

The Tigers will try to land some big fish in the final days before National Signing Day:

Arden Key

Position: Defensive end

School: Hapeville Charter (Lithonia, Georgia)

National position rank by 247Sports: 4th

Star rating by 247Sports: 4 stars

Status: He’s uncommitted, with Georgia and South Carolina leading.

Leo Lewis

Position: Linebacker

School: Brookhaven High (Mississippi)

National position rank by 247Sports: 1st

Star rating by 247Sports: 4 stars

Status: He decommitted from Ole Miss on Friday. His leaders are now LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama.

CeCe Jefferson

Position: Defensive end

School: Baker County Senior (Glen Saint Mary, Florida)

National position rank by 247Sports: 1st

Star rating by 247Sports: 5 stars

Status: He’s uncommitted, with Florida and Ole Miss leading.

Torrance Gibson

Position: Quarterback

School: American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

National position rank by 247Sports: 6th

Star rating by 247Sports: 4 stars

Status: He’s uncommitted but leaning toward Ohio State.