This may seem silly, but if he wants to focus manually, why not by a nice used manual camera (Canon AE's, Minolta X's, Pentax K, etc.)??? Many of the later model manual cameras had plenty of exposure and metering features, but used manual focusing lenses...

Now, I'm cheap, so take this next part with a grain of salt. The autofocus Minolta and Sigma lenses that I've been buying and using for about 15 years or so, can't hold a candle to a couple of manual focus Rokkors that I picked up and use on my Minolta X700. It may be a zoom v prime issue, but the difference in sharpness can be seen in the viewfinder!

If, as you say, he's just starting out, being a little more slow and deliberate with a more manual camera may be just the thing. But if he wants to use it for grab shots at family get togethers and such, a quick to use auto focus may be more to his liking...

...just some thoughts...