Very good link, Eric; it has some really good tips on what to look for.
What kind of music does he play (or does he play at all right now)? If he's interested in playing classical guitar, my suggestions are NOT applicable!
Also, (VERY IMPORTANT) how much $$$ are we talking about?
Mine is a Martin D16 RGT, a dreadnought (spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, mycarda fingerboard and bridge, and custom Martin bracing). Martin is a very respected name in acoustic guitars. Mine sounds very "live" when strummed, which is why dh and I chose it over some more expensive models: we liked the way it sounded for the kind of music we play (gospel, bluegrass, country, folk). It was $1100 ("special deal" at a bluegrass festival; list price was around $1500). There were and are WAY more expensive and fancy guitars out there!
Some more respected makes: Taylor, Gibson, Yamaha, Guild, Ibanez, Epiphone. Most of the guitars they make are in the $500-1500 range.
On second thought (and on dh's advice), may I say the following: What one likes in a guitar is based on very individual and personal tastes. You might consider letting him help choose it, rather than surprising him (unless the guitar shop has a good return policy). Didn't know what you were planning to do, but I thought I'd mention it.
Good luck! PM me if you have any questions.