BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- With the likes of running back Leornard Fournette and receiver Malachi Dupre joining LSU's 22-player recruiting class for 2014, coach Les Miles could can breathe a little easier about a number of Tigers at key positions who left school early for the NFL.
Fournette and Dupre, each rated among the best in the nation at their positions, could play immediately.
The Tigers lost two of their top three running backs - Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue - and their top three wide receivers - Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Kadron Boone. All of those five players except for Boone left early for the NFL.
''This class was a must,'' Miles said Wednesday evening. ''It was an opportunity to replace guys who graduated or juniors who went on to the NFL. Recruiting always starts with our needs. We want to replace our needs with elite players. We did that.''
In Miles' nine seasons as coach, the Tigers have won one national title (2008) and played for a second one (2012).
But just winning the competitive Southeastern Conference is proving difficult.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Fournette is the No. 1 high school prospect in the country according to the recruiting service Scout.com. In his career at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Fournette rushed for more than 7,600 yards and nearly 90 touchdowns. He ran for more than 2,100 yards in his senior season alone.
''Leonard Fournette possesses great power, great speed and great vision,'' Miles said. ''He is great catching the ball out of the backfield. He just has to do all the things that made him successful in high school. That is for him to work hard and apply his trade.''
Fournette was one of four LSU signees rated among the best in the country at his position. The other three were Dupre, from John Curtis Christian Academy in River Ridge, La.; safety Jamal Adams from Hebron High School in Lewisville, Texas; and middle linebacker Clifton Garrett from Plainfield South High School in Joliet, Ill.
''We did exactly right with this class,'' Miles said. ''We improved our team by adding better players. If you look at this group as I do, these guys can compete for a national title.''
National rankings: Rivals.com, 2; Scout.com., 2
Best in class: Leonard Fournette, RB, New Orleans, La.
Best of the rest: Malachi Dupre, WR, River Ridge, La.
Late addition: Travonte Valentine, DT, Hialeah, Fla.
One that got away: Cameron Robinson, OL, West Monroe, La. (Alabama)
NOTE: Les Miles on Leonard Fournette: '' He is a guy who will step in and play.''