The only surprise is the branch.

Bobby Panchisin, star guard for Malvern Prep's football powerhouse, knew as long as 4 years ago that he'd be attending a military academy.

"Back then, I was hoping it'd be Navy," he said. "My uncle [Greg Stevenson] lives in Annapolis and all his friends are Navy grads. Anytime I'd go down there, we'd go to the games and I'd get bombarded with Navy stuff."

However . . .

"That ball never got rolling,' he said.

Hello, Army!

The 6-2, 280-pound Panchisin, whose blocking helped the Friars roar to a 10-0 overall record and the No. 1 ranking in the Daily News/Fox 29 Area Top 15 Poll, has made an oral commitment.

Like many football recruits, he will first spend a year attending Army's prep school in Fort Monmouth, N.J.

"The Army thing started after I attended a 1-day camp up there last June," said Panchisin, who lives in Exton. "I love playing football, with the strategy and just the everyday things that go into it. But what I wanted most in a college was a place that would take care of me afterward.

"I'm very happy with this. My mom and dad [Sharon Stevenson, Bob Panchisin] are absolutely ecstatic."

His eventual goal: To become a JAG Corps Officer.

"I love the movie, 'A Few Good Men,' " he said. "I'd bet I've seen it 100 times."

Probably knows the key lines by heart.

"Did you order the code red?!"

That was Bobby Panchisin speaking. Not Tom Cruise. *