"I didn't really consider me being offered by the new staff – I just considered it a verbal from the old staff," said Manuel. "Once I got the offer [in the mail] it was official."
Manuel will add the UNC offer to his bedroom wall, which already has most of his 23 scholarship offers framed and hanging, including Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
Despite his athletic ability, Manuel is being recruited exclusively as a quarterback.
As a junior, Manuel completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,973 yards, 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns. For his accomplishments, Manuel received First Team All-Beach District, Second Team All-Tide Water, and Second Team All-Area honors.
Believing there are still more additions to the wall to be made, Manuel hasn't established a list of favorites.
"I'm open-minded, because I know I'm going to get a lot more offers than I already have," said Manuel. "So I'm not going to say I have a top anything until I know all my options."
Manuel will narrow down his list of schools to five in May or June. He said he will then make a verbal commitment before the start of his senior football season.
"The better quarterbacks in the nation traditionally commit early so that they can help the coach recruit other guys," said Manuel. "I want to commit and help recruit players."
Academics and tradition are important, but the coaching staff might be the single most significant factor in Manuel's college decision.
"I'm looking for a school that will give me a good opportunity to get to the next level," said Manuel. "So of course [I'm looking for] a good coaching staff, a good quarterback coach that will be another dad – a guy that will take care of me and won't see me just as another player."
Kenny Browning, Manuel's primary recruiter from UNC, has already established a solid relationship with Manuel. The two speak weekly over the phone.
"We talk about the opportunity that they would offer me at the quarterback position," said Manuel. "Coach [Butch] Davis, he's not the type of guy who's afraid of playing a freshman over a senior.
"I know I wouldn't come in there with the starting position [given to me]. I know I would have to work hard and earn my spot. But I know if a freshman is better than a senior they have, the freshman will play. That's the philosophy they have, which I like a lot."
Browning isn't the only representative of North Carolina that Manuel converses with.
"I talked to Bobby Rome – he's a running back who's from my area," said Manuel. "He was telling me about the program, so I asked him a bunch of questions."
Manuel will spend much of the next few months making unofficial visits, which will assist in his elimination of schools.
"There are a lot of schools that I plan on visiting," said Manuel. "Some of them I might not be able to visit, because it's a lot of traveling. I'll definitely hit the schools that I'm very interested in. Just about all the schools that have offered me I'm considering for visits."
Manuel said Florida State and North Carolina will most likely receive a visit this summer. He has already visited Duke, LSU, Maryland, Miami, and Virginia.
While in Chapel Hill last summer, Manuel enjoyed himself as he was able to scope out the campus and town. "Chapel Hill is a college town and everything is [Carolina] blue," said Manuel. "It was awesome, I really had a good time. All their facilities were nice, I met a lot of players, [and] all their coaches were great, too. I had an awesome time – my father and I, we had a really good time."