It's not a long ride for Deion Barnes to get from his Erie Avenue home to Temple, about three stops south on the Broad Street subway.

By contrast, Barnes is about 200 miles from home playing for Penn State. The redshirt freshman defensive end, a pleasant early-season surprise, will be on the field Saturday at Beaver Stadium when the Nittany Lions welcome the Owls.

However, a couple of months ago, there was a chance the former Northeast High star would be playing for the other side. Barnes briefly considered leaving Penn State after the NCAA levied harsh sanctions against the football program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and Temple was a possible landing spot.

"They called me," Barnes said. "I basically told them I'm comfortable here. If something tragic happens, I might have to [leave]. But I wasn't really intending to do it too much."

After a couple of days considering his options and speaking with his parents, Barnes released a statement that he would stay at Penn State, saying: "We all agreed that I would still be able to get a good education and have a good chance of going to the NFL."

Barnes said the main reason he remained was the comfort level, with an assist to defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who recruited him. Johnson was one of two assistants from Joe Paterno's staff retained by head coach Bill O'Brien.

Though the 6-foot-4, 246-pound Barnes is only in his first year of college football after sitting out last season, he is off to a good start reaching his goal of the NFL.

He has emerged as a talented pass-rushing defensive end with a knack for stripping the ball from opposing quarterbacks, which he has done the previous two weeks against Virginia's Phillip Sims and Navy's Trey Miller. He leads the Lions with three sacks.

O'Brien said Barnes is an active player with long arms that help him get his hands inside the hands of offensive tackles and tight ends. After Saturday's game, he invoked the names of NFL stars Tamba Hali, a former Penn State star, and DeMarcus Ware when speaking of Barnes.

"I'm not saying he's there yet," O'Brien said. "But the way he gets off the football . . . he uses his hands, the way he gets off the edge, the way he understands where the quarterback sets up and the way he tries to strip the ball shows his potential. You know he has a bright future. I just think he's a great kid."

Barnes said he never considered Temple coming out of Northeast because he already had 15 to 20 offers by the time the Owls started recruiting him. He ended up choosing Penn State over Georgia.

He said that sitting out his first year was difficult, but he realizes now it helped him.

"I got bigger and stronger and I definitely have adjusted to school," he said. "The daily schedule every week is a grind on you, so I definitely look at it that it was a good choice."

Barnes said he was looking forward to playing against Temple. One of the Owls, defensive back Daquan Cooper, played at George Washington the same time Barnes competed for Northeast.

"It's a battle every time we play," Barnes said. "Against Temple, it's exciting for me coming from Philly watching them. It's a big game for Temple to be able to beat Penn State. I would imagine they're coming here more intense than they've ever been."

Watch Penn State's Deion Barnes talk about playing Temple on Saturday.

BLOG: How Penn State stacks up in the Big Ten.

CHAT: Keith Pompey chats Temple football Thursday at 1 p.m.